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Harris Blackwood: At one time, church was still ‘church’ and Sundays were special
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

I went to a funeral last week and saw something I haven’t seen in years: An older man with white hair was wearing a Sunday school lapel pin.

If you’re not old enough to remember, churches used to award pins for people who had attended one or more years of Sunday school without missing a time. To the best of my memory, I only achieved a one-year pin.

I didn’t get a close look, but this one must have been a 10-year pin. It was quite fancy.

If it was a 10-year pin, this good man came faithfully for 520 consecutive Sunday mornings to study God’s word. That’s dedication.

There used to be an entire outfit dedicated to Sunday school, the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is now a company that runs a chain of Christian bookstores and develops church materials.

It amazes me that some people who publicly eschew some terms because of political correctness use their own form of such for church purposes.

Some have dropped the word “church” because that turns some people off, as does “Baptist.”

“Sunday school” is another turn-off term. We now go to small group Bible study. We used to have a Sunday evening program called Training Union. We dropped that because union sounded like it might belong to a labor organization.

I remember putting my offering, which as a child was a quarter or two, in an envelope that had check-off boxes on the front. You got check marks for being present, bringing your Bible, studying your Sunday school lesson, inviting a visitor and reading your Bible daily.

Being 100 percent was a daunting task. I guess in our “everyone gets a trophy” society, we decided that turned someone off, too.

In Social Circle, Mr. Harry Adams was the Sunday school superintendent. He would change the attendance information on a message board on the side of the sanctuary (oops, yet another term we don’t use anymore.) He would also give the Sunday school report during “big” church.

I guess the job of Sunday school superintendent and announcing the attendance is too passé for today’s crowd.

In every town I’ve lived, I found myself a church to join. I would do something we call “moving our letter.” That means the new church writes off to your old church and essentially transfers your membership to the new place. I don’t know if they staple those together, but I’ve got a bunch of letters in my file.

Every one of those churches holds a special place in my heart. I had people there who loved and cared for me.

Today, people leave churches for a variety of reasons. I actually heard someone say they left a church because they stopped serving a popular brand of coffee. If coffee is the basis of your church affiliation, you may need to rethink that.

If you walk in the back door of a church at 11 o’clock (or whenever they meet) don’t speak to anybody and slip out before it’s over, you may not like that church. But if you move a little closer and let folks get to know you, you’ll find that maybe it’s the right place for you.

I know a man who can give you 520 reasons you should try it.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear Sunday.

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