I’m finishing up a book project, at least I hope it’s almost completed, about Mama’s family stories. In fact, I just got back into town after a quick trip to Centerville, MS to visit with Gerald and Elsie Pitts, the historians of Centerville Baptist Church (Mama’s home church).
One of the central themes of the upcoming book is the fact that Mama’s family were church people. Traditional, evangelical folk who minded their own business, worked hard, loved God, their family, and America.
Here’s a snapshot of Mama, Daddy, Ramona and me around 1963 or ’64. This was after church at Granddaddy Wilson’s house. We ate Sunday dinner there practically every weekend. Usually, it was something along the lines of fried chicken, corn bread, banana pudding, field peas, and sweet tea.
While I had my years of trying to be like the world and a bit more cool than my parents, I never lost respect for their convictions. They raised me to be a church person and, while they honored my decisions, they never wavered on what they believed.
As I look back, I wonder where I would I have been if I hadn’t been raised in the church. During the times of darkness would I have known to pull my Bible out and search for those familiar verses? When Madonna and Tina Turner didn’t soothe my soul, where would I have turned if I didn’t know Amazing Grace or What A Friend We Have in Jesus?
Many years ago, I drove Mama back to Centerville Baptist where she was asked to give some of her testimony. Her family was a founding family of the church and she was the only one able to travel to the event. She spoke of her childhood in that church and how it had shaped her. As she spoke, my mind wandered back to how First Baptist Church had shaped me the same way.
As she ended, she said all she ever wanted her children to know about her was that she loved Jesus. She wasn’t famous, wealthy, or worldly. She was just one of those church people (as the world calls us) and she was happy to be such.
Mama didn’t have to tell us she loved Jesus–we knew it. She didn’t have to pop us over the head with a Bible, she just read hers daily and we saw that. She never wavered when the world mocked her and her kind–she just smiled and went on about her business.
I am so grateful to have been raised in the church and to have had a family who shaped me to love Jesus. Yes, I’m one of those church people and I’m happy to be such
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