Good morning, y’all. Summer has arrived before its official date. I believe the actual date is supposed to be June 20th this year, but the temperature being in the nineties belies the actual date. Hopefully, the rains forecast for this weekend will cool things off. If not, we’re in for a world of pain.
World of pain is a great way to segue back into the retelling of the history of the Little Church in the Valley. The Right Reverend Hap T. Johnson’s motorcade arrived promptly at 5PM. There was one large tour bus and two Cadillac Escalades in the convoy. One Escalade held security and the other Hap T. Johnson’s backup singers, “The Hummingbirds”. The tour bus held the Right Reverend and whatever sycophants that were lucky enough to have the Right Reverend’s favor. The bus included a master bedroom with separate bath, and a very efficient kitchen facility. Once the bus was hooked to electrical and water, it was a home away from home.
When the cavalcade arrived, the Elders could see why the Right Reverend demanded a thousand dollars a day, guaranteed. It had been written into the contract that the Ladies Auxillary would be providing three meals a day for the support staff for the duration of the stay. The Ladies Auxillary were also charged with securing the groceries for the Right Reverend’s personal chef, who traveled with the Right Reverend everywhere he went. The personal chef was an attractive woman in her early thirties, who also acted as the Right Reverend’s scheduler and secretary. Some people presumed that there were other duties that the young lady performed, but there are always those who want to spread scandal and rumors. Being named Crystal Chandle Leer probably did not help the assistant’s credibility.
Upon arrival, the Right Reverend and his chef/scheduler/secretary sought out Elder Cheatum, who was in charge of handling the financials for the revival. Elder Cheatum handed the Right Reverend Johnson ten crisp one hundred dollar bills from a stack of bills that would have choked a horse. Elder Cheatum then asked the Right Reverend to sign in the Elder’s ledger book that he had received payment for the first day. Elder Cheatum then directed the Right Reverend and Ms. Leer to the Ladies Auxillary booth to get further details about meals and accommodations for the rest of the entourage.
Elder Cheatum was greatly relieved that his headliner was on site. While it was true he was getting the other five preachers for the price of one Hap T. Johnson; it was Hap T. Johnson that was going to be bringing in the crowds. People who hadn’t darkened a church house door in years would be coming to hear the Right Reverend Johnson mix fire and brimstone and repackage it as salvation. The Right Reverend’s healing powers were legendary, and the afflicted would be coming from far and wide to get in line for healing. While it was said that the Right Reverend’s serpent skills were sub-par, his skills as an orator and healer were top shelf. Like a major league baseball player, it was rare to find a player that could hit forty home runs, average over three hundred and steal ninety bases. If you got two out of three, then you had all star player, and so it was with Hap T. Johnson.
Rounding out the field of revivalists were: Al Bino from Suwanee, Georgia, Bill Foldes from Asheville, North Carolina, Brighton Early from Cleveland, Tennessee, Rockefeller (Rocky) Rhoades from Ithaca, New York and Dale E. Bread from Homosassa Springs, Florida. Two of the hopefuls were fresh out of the seminary in Cleveland, Tennessee, Bill Foldes and Brighton Early. The other three Evangelists were on vacation from their churches and trying to pick up a little extra money. If a better situation opened up along the way, then who could argue that it wasn’t God’s will that created the opportunity for advancement? Certainly not the auditioning minister.
The “opening” ministers were assigned their nights to deliver their message alphabetically. Reverend Daniel felt it was as fair a way to do it as any other.
First up, on Monday night, was Al Bino. As awkward a twist of fate as ever has befallen a man, Reverend Al Bino did suffer from a skin pigmentation problem. While he was not Edgar Winter pale, he was darn close. The Bino family, immigrants from Italy had no idea that their son Alfredo’s name would be shortened to the nickname “Al” when he reached first grade. Thereafter, he was known as Al Bino. It took a while for his classmate’s language skills to catch up to the fact that they had irony in their midst. A very pale boy named Al Bino. As a result of the constant teasing from his peers, Al chose to ostracize himself and look for answers of a spiritual nature to explain his plight. His parent’s Catholicism was not the answer. Al felt the “one size fits all” dogma left too many unanswered questions. Finally, the only girl who had ever acted friendly to Al asked him to come to her church. It was an Evangelical, spirit filled church. Al was overwhelmed by the emotions he felt while attending the service. At the altar call, Al came forward and dedicated his life and service to Jesus. Now, here he was, eight years later, auditioning for the pastorship of one of the oldest Evangelical churches in the country. He was on fire and filled with the holy spirit.