Good morning, y’all. It is a fine Saturday for staying indoors and watching the Olympics, and, I’m doing just that. It’s funny to think of the Brazil jungle and its environs as having a winter, but that’s where they are now. It’s cooler in Brazil than it is here, and that seems like some sort of mental trick. Kind of like the Donald endorsing Paul Ryan and the other Republicans that are endangered by the Donald’s nut-wings, who are, after all, loyal Republicans.
Speaking of loyalty brings us back around to our retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Wednesday night’s prayer meeting brought the news to the Elders that the news of the impending move had been announced in the later edition of the North Georgia Gazette. Right there on the front page was an article that was not exactly welcoming of the move of an “outlier cult” to the most prominent piece of architecture in Blairsville.
While the argument could be made that the Union County Jail might rival the Crystal Palace as being the most prominent piece of architecture, it was not the architectural considerations that had Mulva’s fur ruffled. The phrase “outlier cult” stuck in Mulva’s craw so bad that she could barely talk. Adding insult to injury, the article was right next to an article about a multi-convicted pedophile who had been arrested again. From the picture in the paper, the molester looked like he was ninety, even though the paper listed his age as 67.
“Well, I never thought to check the home edition”, commented Elder Cheatum as he passed the paper to Elder Wiley, “Thoughts?”
“Well the first thing that comes to mind is jail sure does age a man if this peodphile is really 67”, replied Elder Wiley, “but all kidding aside, we knew the news would come out sooner or later.” “It’s just a little sooner than we would have liked.”
“What does this do to our plans?” asked Mulva.
“Doesn’t change a thing that I can think of”, responded Elder Cheatum. “The Mormon’s real estate agent, Ima Goochey, was more than happy to take a year’s rent up front and allow us the opportunity to bring the building up to code.”
Elder Cheatum looked about the room with as stern a look as he could muster.
“If he thinks that now that the ball is rolling we’ll fold because we’ve run into a little outside resistance, he’s got another think coming.” “I’ll not have our people put our hearts and souls and hard earned money into improving this property just to abandon it because of a little name calling.”
Elder Wiley was doodling furiously on his legal pad, releasing energy before he spoke, “It’s not like there wasn’t plenty of resistance already by the old-timers to the move.” “This news article is going to give the ‘stay in the valley’ crowd another argument for staying put.”
Elder Wiley added smoke to the caricature’s pipe before adding, “Sitting the article next to the piece about the pedophile is some serious devious machination.”
“Well, I’m not going to worry about that now, unless the paper comes out with something slanderous”, said Elder Cheatum, “We should just do our best to stay on track and continue expanding the mission.”
Elder Cheatum looked at Elder Diggum who had been quiet for most of the meeting, “To that end, Barry, what’s this email you sent me about ‘Channel 99 covers Dixie like the dew?”
Elder Diggum’s face broke out into a grin that was from ear to ear, “I’ve been waiting for you all to get through the bad news before I brought up the good news”. “Channel 99 has contracted with three other public broadcast stations to show our telecast.”
Elder Diggum paused for a couple of seconds to allow the news to sink in. “Reverend Helena is going to be shown in Savannah, Macon, Columbus and as far as their respective signals will reach”. “Basically the whole state of Georgia will have the opportunity to see our services, live”.
The grin had not diminished one bit from Elder Diggum’s face,”Well, there will be a slight delay for the three new stations, but basically it will be real-time.”
Elder Diggum’s grin was infectious and the complete board was grinning from ear to ear.
“Outstanding, Barry”, said Elder Cheatum, “you have turned my frown upside down.” He reached out and gave his friend an approving pat on the back. “When do the broadcasts start?”
“This Sunday, maybe”, said Elder Diggum, “next week at the latest.” “Channel 99 is as excited about it as we are.” “They’ll get some sort of revenue sharing from the commercials run on the other stations, so they’re real motivated to get started.”
“Excellent, excellent”, said Elder Cheatum as he turned to look at the secretary/treasurer, “Mulva, I think you need to order about twelve thousand more Bible bookmarks and get the Ladies Auxillary pumped up.”
“Are you excited”, Elder Cheatum asked as he looked at Reverend Helena, “You haven’t said a word all night.”
“I guess I’m just feeling a little funny about being called an ‘outlier cult'”, the Reverend replied, “Either word is not complementary, so using both words seems overly harsh to me.”
“I think there’s an old rhyme about stick and stones that might fit here”, said Elder Wiley as he addressed the Reverend, “I’ll keep a close watch on their language and we’ll sue them back to the stone age if they get out of hand.”
“Well, I don’t know about you all”, said Elder Cheatum as he got up to leave, “but I believe I’ve had about all of the fun I can have for one day.” “Anybody got anything that can’t wait until next time”, he asked as he backed towards the door. There were no objections and the group promptly adjourned the meeting.
Sunday’s service was once again heavily attended in spite of the snow on the ground and the sub-freezing temperature. Channel 99 had managed the link to the Columbus station, but not to the other two markets. As Elder Cheatum stood in his spot at the back of the church the idea that The Full Gospel Original Church of God might soon have to make room for worshipers of the Auburn persuasion excited him. The University of Georgia’s current coach “owned” the Auburn Tigers, and it would be fun to place a few friendly wagers with a diehard War Eagle. The sounds of the gathering hymn broke Elder Cheatum’s revelry and he turned his focus to the pulpit.
The strong emotions expressed by Reverend Helena at the board meeting seemed to form the background for her sermon this week. The sermon’s title was “Wrath”. Having attended thousands of services over the years, Elder Cheatum could generally plot the course of the sermon as easily as the minister. As he listened to the Reverend deliver her message eloquently and passionately, the Elder was having a hard time telling exactly who the sermon was directed at. Part of the sermon seem to draw on the Old Testament, vengeful God.
“I wonder if Reverend Helena is serving up a little wrath for the ‘city slickers’ in Blairsville who would try to disparage The Full Gospel Original Church of God”, he thought to himself.
The summation of the sermon seemed to be directed at the congregation before her, with an entreaty to calm their wrath for one another. Reverend Helena closed the sermon with Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”.
Fortunately for the TV viewing audience, the Reverend finished up in time to get the altar call and testament of faith in the telecast.
“The snakes looked a little sluggish”, thought Elder Cheatum as he headed for the office at the end of the service, ” but, don’t we all this time of year?”