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Column: Why you should take your children to church
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

This is a thank you note to some parents who dedicated themselves to the accomplishments of their children. 

This is particularly true for Steve and Carole, who had their little girl singing at church about the time she was out of diapers. Their daughter’s name is Carrie. Their last name is Underwood.

I was traveling out of town on Easter weekend, something I usually don’t do. I saw a story on TV about an online concert by Carrie Underwood. It was part of the debut of her new album, “My Savior,” which is a collection of some of the great old hymns of the church.

I listened to the service from my church in Gainesville as I drove down the road. When it was over, I logged on to the Underwood concert, which was taking place live at the empty Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

This was a perfect place. The Ryman, named for Capt. Tom Ryman, was first known as the Union Gospel Tabernacle. Samuel Porter Jones, a fiery and flamboyant Methodist evangelist, preached to thousands there each week.

Interestingly, Jones and his wife later purchased a mansion called Roselawn in Cartersville, Georgia.  He is buried there, and the downtown Methodist church is named in his memory.

As I listened to Carrie, I knew the words to every song she sang. They were the great old standards of the church, such as “Just As I Am,” “Oh, How I Love Jesus” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” The latter of those made me cry. She closed it out with “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace.”

At mid-concert, CeCe Winans, gospel music legend, joined Carrie on stage for a duet of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

It reminded me of that verse in the book of Proverbs: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

That, my friends, is why you take your children to church.

While I was driving, I came within a stone’s throw of Oneonta, Alabama, where the Green family made sacrifices to take their teenage boy, Mark, to piano lessons. He started out going to a local teacher for a whopping $3.50 an hour. 

The boy was recommended to go to Boaz, Alabama, about an hour away. A music teacher at Snead State College was willing to take him on as a student. The price was $10 an hour, and the Greens wondered if the modest family budget could afford that.

Every Monday, Nedra Green drove Mark to his lesson. I have said many times that he is the best thing to come out of Alabama since Interstate 20. For more than 20 years, he has been the minister of music at First Baptist Church in Gainesville

I would like to tell Nedra Green, “thanks” again. But, sadly, dementia has begun shutting down the windows of her mind. I met her many years ago. She was a vibrant woman who brought a contingent of her friends to hear our annual Living Christmas Tree, which will be back this year. I wrote a column back then to thank her, and it was published in the local paper in Alabama.

I hope that one day in heaven, I’ll get to sit with Nedra, next to Steve and Carole Underwood, and listen as their daughter sings, accompanied by Mark Green.

As the old gospel song says, “That will be glory, be glory for me.”

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the weekend Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com.

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