Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Ladson Pentecostal Holiness Church
The church wasn't there when my family first moved into the area. The pastor and his family moved there the following year.
I didn't know anything about Pentecostal Holiness churches. I didn't even know how to pronounce "Pentecostal Holiness." It seemed like a mouth full. All I knew is that I saw a lot of church signs in the area with those words on it. But, come to think of it though, I didn't know anything about Baptist, Methodist, or any other kind of church either. I had been to my grandmother's church many time, and I loved going to her church. There, the music was energetic, loud, and enthusiastic. Her church was the standard by which I judged all churches. But, I didn't even know what kind of church it was. I had never thought about it. Church was church. While in Alaska, 1964-1967, I went to sunday school on the Air Force base where we lived, but they weren't in a church. Yes, there was a big church on the base, but Sunday School was conducted in one of the school buildings on the base. Not once had I ever been asked what kind of church do you go to. The word "Baptist" got stuck in my mind somehow. I guess that's because it was an easy word to pronounce, and many many many churches had "Baptist" somewhere in their names. It was while I was living in Ladson that I was asked, "What kind of church does your grandmother go to?" With confidence I said, "Baptist," but I was sooooo wrong. Her church was the "Assembly of God Taberacle" in Atlanta, Georgia.
Just like my family, the pastor's family had three children. The oldest son's first name was Ronald just like mine. He, though, was a few months older and a grade further in school than me. He was called Ronnie, and I was called Scott. It was Ronnie who visited my house one evening just long enough to invite us to a weiner roast on the church property. That was the first of many weiner roasts they had there. My sister, brother, and I enjoyed many more there over the next few years.
At first, the pastor's family lived in a trailor parked behind the house on the property. In the house was where they had Sunday School and worship services. Momma let my sister, brother, and me go there. Often, though, she told us to come home after Sunday School, and we got in trouble when we didn't do as she told us. At first, weeds filled the field behind (depending on how you were looking at it all) the house and trailer. Later, the field was cleared and construction on a new church building began.
While the new building was under construction, the pastor's wife began a nursery and a youth ministry in the house church. She also became the first piano teacher for my sister and me. Her nursery began taking care of my brother everyday after he finished kindergarten. At her youth meetings, she taught my sister and me all the books of the Bible. Every Monday, she taught us our piano lessons. Also, during the construction, the pastor asked Ronnie and me to do clean up work. He offered us a dollar and a half. We accepted. He ended up paying us two dollars.
I would call the diligence the pastor and his wife put into that church second to none. They often got a bus (I guess they rented it, but I'm not sure) and took us neighborhood kids to youth ralleys after which we stopped for hamburgers on the way home. Sometimes, they bused us to a roller skating rink. Once, they drove us all to a Valentine's banquet several hours away. Once, because several of us had participated and won in a local teen talent contest, they got us all to the state competition. They drove several of us to youth camps. That's all in addition to the weiner roasts we all enjoyed, the studying and preparation they did for Sunday worship services and Sunday School, the yard work and building maintenance they had to do, the daily taking care of the family, and the full time jobs they worked.
For one of those jobs, the pastor delivered doughnuts for Krispie Kreme. Ronnie invited me to go along with them on a Saturday. I met them at their house at about five-thirty in the morning, and all day we rode as his dad drove the delivery van from one convenience store to another until the day's work was done. Yup! We munched on a few doughnuts too.
For the next several years, we went through good times and bad. That neighborhood wasn't the friendliest place to be. Its kids could be hell raisers at times. I grew to hate it more and more everyday. My own mom and dad converted to Christianity through the ministry of a different church and we began to go there as a family for Sunday School and Church worship, so we weren't at the church across the street as often. The pastor's wife helped us find a new piano teacher, because of many demands on her time. As it turned out, both our families moved away from that neighborhood at about the same time in 1973.
Some thirty plus years later, Ronnie (now called Ron), the pastor's wife, and I have re-connected.
I'm sure they have different perspectives that could be added to all this.