Good morning, y’all. Well if you can’t get excited about watching America’s swimmers at the Olympics, I don’t know what will get you out of your seat. Michael Phelps’ continued dominance of his sport at the ripe old age of thirty-one is mighty impressive. Thank God he’s winning, or people would be pointing out that maybe he should stop playing huggy buggy with that octopus before each match. The physical results of “cupping” are very distracting, and one could imagine what Phelps’ detractors would be saying if the practice was not producing such astounding results. That, and all of that training, of course.
Speaking of dominance brings us back around to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The board meeting after the Wednesday Night Prayer meeting was filled with the news that Bud Lite was relieved of his probation from the State of Georgia and would now be available to donate his skills to the furthering of the mission of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Mulva was most complimentary of Reverend Dale’s efforts as a character witness on Bud’s behalf.
“Turns out, Reverend Dale knows the judge”, related the secretary/treasurer to the group seated around the table.
“Bud says they acted like old buddies”, Mulva continued, “Isn’t that providential?”
“It’s a true blessing”, replied Elder Cheatum, “I know you’re happy that Bud’s been released.”
“How’s he coming on our website”, asked the Elder hoping to divert the attention away from Reverend Dale’s friendship with yet another female.
“Ok, I guess”, replied Mulva, “He’s going to come out and take photos of everything for the webpage.” “I think he wants to get some testimonials too”.
“Well, he shouldn’t have any problem around here finding people who are willing to testify“, said Elder Wiley.
A light chuckle passed through the group and the board members continued on with their business. Repairs at the Crystal Palace were continuing unabated despite the snow and ice on the grounds. A tentative grand opening was scheduled for Sunday March 27, two weeks hence.
“I’m cogitating on an idea”, said Elder Cheatum, “and I’d like to have your thoughts.”
Eager to be a part of one of the few times that the Elder needed help making a decision, the group leaned forward in their chairs.
“I’d like to take the whole congregation to the new church the week before we open.”, said Elder Cheatum, “We could charter three or four buses, drive to the new church, and setup in the parking lot for Reverend Helena to deliver a blessing to the new church.”
The Elder drew a breath and continued, “After the benediction, we’d let everybody walk around and appreciate the work of our volunteers for a while, then load them up on the bus and give them a box lunch to eat on the way back.” “What do you think?”
“I love it”, responded Reverend Helena, “it might help make some of the older members of the church to feel more at home.”
“What about Channel 99”, asked Elder Diggum, “this endeavor is going to far exceed our hour of air time”.
“I thought about that”, responded Elder Cheatum, “I’m thinking we would leave here at 9AM.”
The Elder paused to look at the faces around the table, “We’d be basically cancelling church here for the day”. “The dudes from Channel 99 would be able to film whatever they want to film, edit it, and then present it at 11AM in documentary style.”
“I’m not sure that will fly”, responded Elder Diggum, “that’s not exactly our agreement”.
“If you need help with the ‘agreement’, we’ll get Alvin to help out”, replied Elder Cheatum, “that is if everyone agrees that it’s a good idea.”
“I think the Ladies Auxillary and all of the volunteers will be tickled pink that we’re showing off their good works on TV”, said Mulva, “I agree”.
“You know, we could do one of those scrolling things at the end of the broadcast that displays all of the businesses that have contributed to our efforts”, said Elder Wiley, “that will go a long way when we need to ask them for something the next time.”
“Then we’re all agreed”, asked Elder Cheatum.
The “ayes” carried the motion. The meeting adjourned with Mulva tasked with securing enough transportation at the “best price” to carry the acolytes to their Promised Land.
Spirits were high that Sunday. All of the pieces seemed to be fitting together. The message of the week was on temperance, and Reverend Helena lit right into the evils of hard drink and drugs. She was not giving a pass to “social drinkers” or folks who only used prescription medicines. The “highway to hell is paved with good intentions”, and folks who have a drink to be sociable are just “tempting the Devil”.
From his vantage point at the back of the church, Elder Cheatum calculated that Reverend Handbasket did a good half an hour on the perils of strong drink, leaving about fifteen minutes for the evils of drugs.
As the Elder passed the collection plate from row to row, years of performing the task led him to believe that the offerings were lighter than usual.
“I don’t know if a poll of the congregation would reveal a demographic that is supporting of the Reverend’s time allotments”, the Elder thought,”I suspect the drug problem is about two to one the drinking problem.”
“I don’t have any hard numbers”, the Elder concluded to himself, “but I know my neighbors, and you just know these hipsters are messing with something illegal.”
For the first time since the Reverend Helena had taken over, there were no people coming up to the altar call at the end of the service. Elder Cheatum scanned the congregation and looked for a clue as to the cause of the anomaly. As surreptitiously as he could, Elder Cheatum slipped alongside of Elder Wiley.
“I don’t know what to make of it”, Elder Cheatum whispered in his friend’s ear, “She was certainly fiery in her delivery, and did a mighty fine job of wrangling the serpents.” “She just couldn’t get anyone to get out of their seat to ‘come on down’.”
Elder Wiley whispered back at Elder Cheatum, “I know what it looks like in person, and I’m guessing out in TV land it looks God awful.”
Elder Wiley continued whispering animatedly,”I’m sure hoping the management at Channel 99 is not negatively effected by the paucity of souls saved this week.” “It could greatly effect our request for them to do us a favor by doing the road trip show to the Crystal Palace.”
“You work on that”, whispered Elder Cheatum, “and I’ll see what’s going on with our Reverend.”
“I’m taking off”, Elder Cheatum declared, “Can you follow up with Mulva and make sure she gets the deposit done?”
Elder Cheatum didn’t wait for a response and he was out of the church immediately. On his way down the steps he whispered into the Reverend’s ear, “We need to talk, will you be home later?” Reverend Helen nodded “yes” and Elder Cheatum left the parking lot headed for parts unknown.