Good morning, y’all. Well, if you have any doubt about who Hillary Clinton is, it should be dispelled by now. Character witness after character witness came forward to sing the praises of someone who has been working for the common man, and children in particular, for forty years. In spite of Hillary’s brilliant acceptance speech, the most important words of the night were spoken by a Muslim father who had lost his son fighting for the United States Army. “You have sacrificed nothing, you have sacrificed no one”, the father accused the Donald. Offering to loan the Donald his copy of the U.S. Constitution for what would be a first reading by the Donald, was just icing on the cake.
Speaking of unique situations brings us to today’s retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The Elders, ‘plus one’, met in the office of the little church after Wednesday Night Prayer meeting. As Mulva started printing the profit and loss statements to the little printer she had donated to the church, she commented on the crowd size.
“We’re just about as full tonight as we were on Sunday”, Mulva said, “I think we should start passing the plate.” “I’m betting there’s folks coming on Wednesday that are avoiding Sunday.”
“Well, I’m never going to get a better lead in than that”, thought Elder Cheatum.
“Well Mulva”, Elder Cheatum said to the secretary/treasurer, “We’ve all been agonizing over this problem day and night.” “I know you have too.” “I’ve prayed on it, I’ve read the scriptures, I’ve talked to people about it almost nonstop, and I think I’ve come to a couple of conclusions.”
Mulva Lite sensed the gravity of the Elder’s voice and put her paperwork down on the table and focused on Elder Cheatum.
“What I’m going to propose may sound like I’ve completely lost my mind, and I’m willing to take a crazy test if you all insist.”
Without waiting for a vote for a sanity test, the Elder plunged ahead, “I’d like to offer the congregation the opportunity to vote on our future.” “I know sometimes our members feel like we just make decisions without considering their feelings, but I can assure you that that has never been the case.”
Elder Cheatum took a sip of Mountain Dew and continued, “We’re unique in that the same family has provided leadership for the church for three generations.” “From our founder Hiram Hawker, through his grandson Daniel, most of our decisions for the church were made by their visions.” “We don’t have their guidance anymore.”
Elder Cheatum looked around the table and all eyes were on him, “What we do have is a Reverend that is reaching into the souls of people and causing them to take action.” “Reverend Helena is reaching people as far as the telecasts go, and those people are motivated to attend our church and contribute to spreading our message.” “I think most people would call it a phenomenon, maybe a miracle”.
Elder Cheatum took another sip and continued, “For those of us that believe that it is all part of God’s plan, we can say that the hiring of Reverend Dale and his subsequent fall were part of God’s plan to bring us to Reverend Helena.” “Now, because we have outgrown our current situation, we have to ask, ‘what is the next part of the plan?'”
Elder Cheatum continued, “I’m going to draw on one of my favorite childhood songs, ‘This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine’ as an answer.”
The Elder paused to take a breath and continued, “For those of you would went to vacation Bible school with Granny Waller, I know you’ve been told many times to not ‘hide your light under a bushel basket.'”
As the collected group shook their heads in agreement, Elder Cheatum felt moved to quote the scriptures, “I believe it was Matthew 5:14-16 that said, ‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.‘”
The Elder let his words sink in before he continued, “I feel deeply, deeply, that it is our mission to bring Reverend Helena’s special gift to as many people as we can.” “I believe we should allow our congregation the opportunity to vote to move our services to the Crystal Palace in Blairsville.”
As the gravity of his words reached each member of the board, Mulva asked,”What if the people don’t want to go?”
“Then we’ll stay”, answered Elder Cheatum, “We’ll turn off the telecasts, and eventually all of that TV money will dry up.” ” Who knows, eventually the church may return to the same size as it was when Reverend Daniel was preaching, and we can take those horrible additions off.”
Elder Cheatum continued, “Now, we’re not going to be able to fund any of those projects we’ve been talking about, the trip to the Holy Land, the daycare center, the mission trip to Central America.” “We’re going to have to squeeze every quarter until the eagle screams, but hey, we know how to do that, we’ve been there before.”
Elder Cheatum measured the look of alarm in Mulva’s face before continuing, “I also worry about the revivals, but maybe that is part of God’s plan, too”.
Elder Diggum jumped in ahead of Mulva to ask,”What about the revivals?”
“Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re not getting any younger”, Elder Cheatum said as he looked around the table. “If we can’t attract young people into membership, and consequentially volunteership, then the church will have to contract for all of those services provided by volunteers.”
Elder Cheatum leaned back in his chair as he began to wrap up, “I’m not proposing a ‘reformation’, I don’t see splitting the church as the answer”. “I just believe that long term, we’ll lose Reverend Helena if we vote to stay.” “She’ll be getting offers that we won’t be able to match with our old revenue model.” “Maybe that’s God’s plan, but maybe God brought Reverend Helena to us to spread the vision of Hiram Hawker to the world.”
The room was quiet for a few seconds before Mulva spoke. “I truly do believe what you’re saying, Reverend Helena is meant for a larger audience than the little church in the valley.” “I want to be a part of that larger voice and that movement.” “I just don’t want to lose our traditions and the friends that we have here.” “Does that make sense?” “It’s like you really want to live in Atlanta and enjoy all of its benefits, but your family wants to live in Nunsuch.” “You stay in Nunsuch with your family, it’s what you do.”
“Mulva, you’ve hit the nail on the head and given me an idea at the same time”, Elder Cheatum said. “What if the ‘Yes’ vote is to maintain the telecasts, which will also be a vote on moving Reverend Helena to the Crystal Place?” “The ‘No’ vote will discontinue the telecasts and trying to maintain the status quo.”
Having sat silent for too long, Elder Wiley took the opportunity to break his silence, “What if the ‘Yes’ vote also included keeping the little church in the valley open as long as someone attends Sunday services?”
All eyes snapped on the Elder, some with hope, some with disbelief at the proposal. Elder Wiley continued, “We’d have to find a preacher at a discount, I might know where to locate one.” “The good folks of our community won’t have to follow Reverend Helena to the Crystal Palace if they don’t want to.” “Come Sunday morning, it will be business as usual at the Little Church in the Valley, just like it has been since 1902.”
The look on Mulva’s face as she recognized what was being said was one of relief spreading to joy. “Could we do that?” she asked. “Can we afford it?”
“We’ll figure a way”, said Elder Wiley, “Can you support the move if we don’t leave any stragglers behind?”
The secretary/treasurer smiled at each member of the board and said, “Yes, I believe I can.”
Elder Wiley raised his voice to an authoritarian tone, “The motion is made to poll the congregation this Sunday for a proposed move to the Crystal Palace.”
The “Ayes” carried the motion.
Elder Wiley continued, “It is further proposed to keep the existing facilities opened for as long as they are deemed necessary, regardless of the outcome of the congregation’s vote”.
Once again, the “Ayes” carried the day.
There being no further business, the board adjourned their meeting and returned to their daily lives.