Good morning, y’all. Well, good is just a salutation, it is not a good morning. A nut job in Nice, France has killed 84 people with a truck. The mind bongles. It is too sad to comprehend, and yet, everyone must pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again. It will be interesting to see over the next few days if there were warning signs. Should someone have noticed that this guy was so deranged that he might be capable of acting out in such a horrific way?
Speaking of acting out brings us back to the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Wednesday night’s board meeting brought the disturbing news from Mulva Lite that Reverend Bread and Ophelia Bottoms were making themselves out to be the new “it” couple in Blairsville. The Ladies Auxillary cast a pretty wide net in Blairsville with all of their service missions. There had been so many sightings lately of, “Bread and Bottoms” that even the Ladies Auxillary was having a hard time keeping track.
“It’s a shame we can’t make a cute name like “Bennifer” for the couple, ‘Dalephelia’ just doesn’t have the same feel”, said Elder Diggum, “I guess ‘Bread and Bottoms’ will have to do.”
The Elder’s attempt at humor was met with harsh stares by the rest of the group.
“I don’t find one thing funny about this situation”, said Elder Wiley, “the fact that he has tried to file suit against his wife for damages, and she is living on the mercy of the church and the Lites, just makes my blood boil.” “I think that rattlesnake venom must have effected his brain.” “He’s just not thinking right”, Elder Wiley concluded.
“Well, maybe it’s not his brain that’s doing his thinking for him,” Elder Cheatum said. “Let’s get on with business, I’ve wasted enough of my life on Dale Bread.”
“I’ve found a great gospel group to take over the choir”, Elder Diggum reported. “Ted E. Bayer and His Love Fellowship”. “We can mix and match as many components as we want.” “They’ve even got a horn section if we want.”
“None of which are cheap I imagine”, Elder Cheatum speculated.
“Cheaper than you’d think”, Elder Diggum replied. “I should tell you that they all are ex-cons.”
“What?” was the chorus from the other board members.
“Hold on, hold on”, said Elder Diggum, “none of them has been convicted of a violent crime, and the state of Georgia provides us with a bond to insure us against any mishaps not covered by our own insurance.” “I don’t see how it’s not worth a try.” “Think of the positive publicity”.
“If we get any more positive publicity, we’re going to be setting up rows of speakers in the parking lot like at the drive in movie theaters,” said Elder Wiley. “People will have to sit in their cars to hear the service.”
“Or stay at home and watch it on TV”, said Elder Cheatum as he turned to Elder Diggum, “how much?”
“Two hundred for Ted E. Bayer and three backup singers.” “Three fifty for the singers and four horn players.” Elder Diggum answered.
“Let’s go the two hundred, and if the big screens and the audio system are still here next week, maybe we’ll expand.” Elder Cheatum responded. “Mulva make sure that ‘Old Rusty’ is locked tight after services on Sunday”, the Elder said as he nodded towards the cast iron floor safe in the corner. “No point in tempting disaster.”
“I always do”, Mulva replied as she smiled meekly.
“Is there any other business?” said Elder Cheatum as he rose to leave. There was none.
As the group rode off into the night, each was satisfied that while the church had had its share of adversity lately, the board had not only been equal to the challenges, but had excelled. In spite of the torrential rain falling on the area, the board member’s spirits were bright. The group was feeling very satisfied with themselves.
As Elder Cheatum walked through the sanctuary after Sunday school that Sunday, his heart nearly stopped. Sitting slap dab in the middle of the church was Reverend Bread and former choir director, Ophelia Bottoms. The Elder rushed to his post at the front door trying to not look towards the couple. If he acknowledged their presence, he would have to respond. He had not a clue as to how to respond. The couple had not been banished, if the Pentecostals even had banishment. They certainly weren’t trespassing, and unless they did something outrageous they would be allowed to worship.
Fact was, the couple was more likely to suffer from the ire of the people who normally sat in the prime seats than anything the church officials could do to them. As it turned out, the usual occupants of the seats made room for “Bread and Bottoms”, and even exchanged pleasantries with the couple before the services began. The monsoon like rains had not diminished the attendance any, and soon the couple were surrounded on all sides by eager acolytes.
This week would be the first week that the big screens would be tuned to the telecast from Channel 99 instead of displaying the shots from the overhead camera installed by Elder Diggum. It was felt that the worshipers in the “additions” would gain a better experience from the scenes provided by the professional TV crew as opposed to the fixed camera. The services got off to a roaring start with the full gospel sound of Ted E. Bayer and His Love Fellowship. Ted E. Bayer had brought it all, horns, drums and guitars. The group was providing a deepness and richness of sound only found in the big megachurches.
“They must have over a thousand watts of amplified power behind those instruments”, Elder Cheatum though as he squeezed into his spot. “I don’t know that the rafters of the church were designed to be able to withstand a sonic assault”. “Much less, my ears.” The Elder resolved to mention volume and pricing to Elder Diggum as soon as services were over.
As things quieted down, the camera panned the crowd searching the faces of the faithful as they waited for the Reverend Helen Handbasket to begin her service. The camera settled on “Bread and Bottoms”, and why not, they were an attractive young couple. Maybe it was the producer’s idea to show the young couple as the typical worshiper. Hard to say.
What happened next is hard to categorize. Was if fate? Divine intervention? The revenge of a woman scorned? All of the above? As the camera settled on the unsuspecting couple, the little hand of seven year old Devin Bread could be seen rattling his baby brother’s rattle in his daddy’s ear. While most people can easily differentiate the difference between the sound of a baby rattle and a rattle snake, apparently Reverend Bread was still extremely sensitive. His go round with Old Ben must have still been very fresh in his mind.
Reverend Bread jumped from his pew as if shot out of a cannon. He hollered as if stung by a nest of hornets. The former pastor did a couple of confusing steps similar to one afflicted with the St. Vitus dance, and then made a beeline for the door. His paramour, Ophelia Bottoms, was left in his wake with a confused look on her face. His son, Devin, sat back down quietly next to his mama. The full episode was shown live to the world on the Channel 99 broadcast.
The rest of the sermon and service was a blur in time to Elder Cheatum. “We’re going to get creamed in the press,” Elder Cheatum said to himself as he took his place at the front door at the end of services. As the Elder shook hands and patted backs he listened for bits of conversation to see how the crowd was reacting to the episode. Not a word was mentioned.
The Elder looked heavenward as he got in his car to leave for the day. “Thanks big guy”, he said, as he raised his face to the sky, and received a face full of rain.