Good morning, y’all. Wow, the one thing you don’t want to have happen while one of the presidential candidates is running on a “law and order” ticket are riots. It seems Milwaukee is boiling over from years and years of abusive treatment by the police and the latest shooting of a black man is turning into a state of martial law. The National Guard has been called in, and a curfew implemented. Unfortunately, now the Donald has something to scream about. “Coming to a city near you, riots, if I am not elected.” “Only I can create racial harmony.” “Witness my efforts with the Muslims and Mexicans”. Crazy, crazy.
Speaking of crazy brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. The Elders met in Gainesville that Sunday night for dinner and damage control. After they placed their orders, Elder Diggum was first to speak.
“I think the folks at Channel 99 are tickled pink”, he said, “their only suggestion was to give them a heads up next time and they’ll setup the cameras and stuff before Reverend Helena arrives.”
“If there is a ‘next time'”, replied Elder Cheatum, “the location will be pre approved by us.” “There will be no more spur of the moment raids on local businesses by Reverend Helena”.
“Did you convey that message to her”, asked Wiley.
“I did, but I did not go any deeper than the fact that the church was concerned with how we would be portrayed to the viewing audience”, answered Elder Cheatum, “and the liability issues, of course, if one of our congregation got themselves hurt.”
“Good, people relate more to the threat of a suit than anything you can say to them,” replied Elder Wiley, “you can explain stuff to people until you’re blue in the face and they won’t get it sometimes.” “You tell them they could get sued and they don’t need to understand anymore, they’re happy to back off.”
“Well, that might be where we are with Reverend Helena, she says it was strictly a ‘spur of the moment’ thing”, said Elder Cheatum.
“So she doesn’t know anything about ‘Tres Amigos'”, asked Elder Diggum.
“Not that I am aware”, replied Elder Cheatum, “I think it would take a very motivated, very knowledgeable person to track down the holdings of ‘Tres Amigos'”.
“That’s how I planned it”, said Elder Wiley as the steaks arrived.
Confident that Reverend Handbasket would not go off script again, and the fact that their involvement in several less than sanctified businesses was secure from prying eyes, the Elders dug into their meal with great zeal, or ‘mucho gusto’ as Tres Amigos might say.
The board meeting after Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting was filled with tension. Reverend Handbasket was still feeling like she was in the doghouse after having encountered the wrong side of Elder Cheatum for two weeks in a row. While the Reverend was smiling politely, and trying to follow Mulva’s story of babysitting the Bread children, she wasn’t really that engaged. When Mulva delivered the punch line to her story about the Bread children watching ‘It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown’, she had to be prompted to respond.
“And then Bud said, ‘ I think that it ‘s better for children to think Easter is about a beagle and a bird named Woodstock than nailing somebody up to a cross.'”, said Mulva, “can you imagine?”
“Well, maybe the crucifixion is a little intense for young children, maybe that’s what Bud was trying to say”, replied Reverend Helena, “I’m sure he didn’t mean anything sacrilegious”.
“I guess”, replied Mulva, “it’s just lucky for Bud that Reverend Dale and Alva came back then because I was about to jerk a knot in his tail.”
“Ladies, ladies, if we could proceed”, said Elder Cheatum, “our time is short, let’s make the most of it.” “I guess the big question is, are we ready?”
Elder Diggum was first to reply.
“Channel 99 has got everything ready to roll, he said, “the guy wire across the auditorium works like a charm and has been heavily tested.” “Reverend Helena can move just about anywhere in the auditorium and still be able to be followed by the overhead camera.”
Elder Diggum continued, “She’ll be wearing a microphone in a pendant attached to her robes that will transmit her voice via her backpack to the sound system.” “The range is about fifty yards with no degradation in quality”.
“You’ll have complete freedom of movement”, Elder Diggum said as he looked at the Reverend.
The Reverend gave a listless, “good”, in response.
Elder Cheatum ignored the Reverend’s lack of excitement, if he noticed, and continued with his checklist. “I assume all local ordinances have been checked and there are no legal stumbling blocks to our holding church on Sunday?”, the Elder said as he looked at Elder Wiley.
Elder Wiley looked up from his doodles and replied, “We’re as sound as the pound.” “We’ll have to gauge the impact of the turnout to parking spaces available in our lot and on the streets.” “There may be some issues there, but we’ll deal with them as we need to.” “I say we’re a go.”
“Well, Mulva”, asked Elder Cheatum, “how are you and the Ladies Auxilary feeling?”
“I guess we’re as ready as we can be without knowing how many folks are going to show up”, Mulva answered. “We sent out roughly ten thousand ‘invitations to church'”, Mulva continued, “that’s all of our old membership rolls and all of the new folks requesting Bible bookmarks.”
“If they all show up, I don’t know what we’ll do”, Mulva said with a look on her face that indicated that she thought there was some possibility that it might actually happen.
“Well, don’t let that keep you awake at night”, said Elder Cheatum as he turned to Reverend Helena. “How about you, are you ready?”
“Sure”, replied the Reverend, “anything special you all want me to talk about, or am I free to go as the spirit moves me?”
“I think we’ll trust your feelings”, said Elder Cheatum, “unless you’re going to try to tell everyone that this the year that the Braves make it back to the World Series.”
The joke at the Braves expense lightened the mood somewhat, and the group finished their checklists in relatively quick fashion. As the Elders walked to their cars, Elder Wiley sidled along side of Elder Cheatum.
“Looks like our little girl has got hurt feelings”, Elder Wiley said as Elder Cheatum opened his car door.
“Well, if she does, she can get over them”, said Elder Cheatum climbing in behind the wheel of his car. “We’ve got way too much invested in this venture to let her be the single point of failure.”
Elder Cheatum continued, “She’ll either learn how to go along, or she’ll need to get along”.
Elder Cheatum closed the door of his car and drove off without even a “see you in church” as a farewell. Elder Wiley stood in the parking lot for a minute watching the Elder retreat before getting in his own car.
“It wouldn’t be church without some conflicts”, he thought to himself as he left the parking lot. “I just hope we get it right Sunday”.
Elder Wiley turned up his radio and let the sounds of “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival drown out his thoughts.