Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An Old Church of God in Williston Florida---Lives in My Heart

Sometimes when one reaches a certain age it is easier to remember a time when you are very young; than remembering what you ate for dinner the night before. And, for me this is one of those times, which I will share with you a special time at the beginning of my life.

When I was a baby my Grandmother and Grandfather Knight took me to church with them every Sunday. When I was probably three years old I began to realize that Church was where God lived and we came to visit with him. I could not wait to walk through the double doors of the “Old Church of God in Williston Florida.”
I always held my Grandmother Knight’s hand as I skipped up the church steps every Sunday. We walked through the open doors into God’s house. I could not reason it out in my baby mind that God was all around us and that he did not live only in the church.
In this little church is where I learned about Christians. And, I learned about the good Christians in the church; where help was always given with joy in their hearts when there was a need. And, in Sunday school I learned about the Bible, and how to pray.

I remember the beautiful music Norma Yancey played on the piano as her fingers flew across the keys; while she sang with John Yancey and Nolan Smith. I can still hear them singing “When the Roll is Called up Yonder,  Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, Rock of Ages, The Old Rugged Cross, He ,” and so many more.

The little church had a choir behind the pulpit where beautiful singing echoed through the church and made my baby heart jump with happiness because I knew God was there listening with us. My Grandmother said he was all around us so I could talk to him anywhere and to remember to thank him for all my blessings. I really didn’t know what blessings were then, so I told God I loved him and was thankful for him.

I loved everything about church until the man up front who everyone called the “Preacher” talked really loud. Grandmother said he was trying to get our attention and to make a point about God’s words from the Bible. I always wondered what God thought about the loudness that scared little children like me. I knew his son Jesus loved children---I learned about Jesus in Sunday school.

I remember the beautiful faces of the church women and how they always glowed with happiness; and some of these women were: My Grandmother Alice Knight, Mrs. Goodman, Mrs. Nail, Mrs. Cribbs, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Hoppings, Mrs. Chesser, Mrs. Sullivan., Mrs. Norma Yancey, Mrs. Nolan Smith, Mrs. Othie Chesser, Mrs. Hazel Lee, Mrs. Frazier Sullivan, Mrs. Slater Sapp and there were more---but I cannot remember their names.

I remembered most of the women had long hair like my Grandmother who wore her hair braided and in a bun with long hairpins to keep it in place. Their dresses had long sleeves and the skirts were long---half way to their ankles over thick stockings. And, my Grandmother Knight did not wear jewelry or make-up. Since my Angel Grandmother did this---it had to be right with God.

These were the women who impressed me with their gentle spirit and I learned by watching them is how Grandmother Knight said ladies should always act. I don’t know if I became the lady she wanted me to be---because---I never accepted the saying: Children should be seen, but not heard. I received many disdainful looks from my Grandfather Knight when I talked at the wrong time. However, I tried to always please my Grandmother Knight---just to see her smile was worth all the effort it took---she was my sunshine.

The men I remembered were: Grandpa Tom Sullivan (not a blood relative---but close enough), Mr. Goodman, and Mr. Smith, Mr. Hoppings, Mr. Nail, Mr. Edgar Chesser, Mr. John Yancey, Mr. Slater Sapp, Mr. Frazier Sullivan and Mr. Nolan Smith.

The Old Church of God is no longer standing and most of the older people who worshipped there are in Heaven now; with my grandparents. In my heart and mind it is still there---waiting for me to enter; because this is where I first felt the powerful presence of God so many years ago. I can still envision the women fanning their babies on warm Sunday mornings; with the paper fans fastened on a flat wooden stick because there was no air-conditioning in the church, and I doubt there was heat---I do not remember.

The men put the church windows up in the summertime and everyone used paper fans. My Aunt Dora and I found a fan in the back of Grandmother Knight’s closet; a fan with Jesus on the front talking to children---I cried---grandmother had saved it because she loved it.

The essence of that little old Church of God has carried me through many sorrowful times, especially when I lost a love one. I would let my mind recall the glorious days I spent sitting with my grandparents on the wooden benches, as I watched everything happening around me. During these times I listened intently as a song softly echoes through my mind and is now branded on my heart forever, “When the Roll is Called up Yonder” because my Grandmother loved this song.

When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder

My mother remarried and she joined the Baptist Church, so I went there most of the time. Although I went with my Grandparents as often as I could to God’s Church, it was like going home to my Grandparent’s farm---it felt right.

When I go to Williston I always drive slowly by where the little church once stood and I can visualize a little blond girl holding tightly to her grandmother’s hand; as she smiles up into her Angelic grandmother’s face; while she skipped up the steps to visit God. I wish I had taken a picture for my memory book, but I never thought it would one be replaced with a bigger church; but it will live in my heart forever.

I thank God for the blessing of knowing where the roots of the good Church of God Christians began, and I pray it’s carried on by their descendants.

© BEPH 2014 All Rights Reserved

PurvisBobbi44 is the sole author of this Blog and if it is seen anywhere
else on the Internet or in print it was taken without my consent.

If God Is Not There                                               

A church is only a building if God is not there,

Then all who dwell within---are without a prayer.

God can be worshiped by his Christian followers, under the sky,

Without a building to cover them---they do not ask why?

Jesus preached on the mountain-side without even a tent,

His followers listened until they were spent.

The Multitude was fed,

Jesus prayed over the five small loaves of Barley bread.

Including the two small fish given by Ben Ezra, the little boy,

Hunger sated the 5,000 and they felt joy.

God was there on the mountain side,

He watched his son Jesus with great pride.

A church is only a hull if God does not live within,

It is not for Saints, but for we Sinners who sin.

From a small town country church many were saved,

Christians---Heaven bound their golden road was paved.

It is said many talk the talk and boast about---their Salvation,

And others walk the walk with Jesus on this earth---God’s creation.

One can feel God anywhere if your heart and soul is right,

Is your church just a business---where money is the plight?

Do you hear the “Word of God” in church on Sunday morning?

Or goals of raising money----this could be a forewarning.

Take it to the Lord in Prayer,

And, he will be there.

Your heart will hear his answer and then you decide,

Is your church worthy for you to abide.

Take that walk with the Christians of the “Old Church of God” of long ago,

And feel the spirit from within start to glow.

© BEPH 2014 All Rights Reserved

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