It all started during Christmas time 22 years ago. Since we lived next door to our church, as the residents of the parsonage, we got the honor of decorating the front of the church. That year we went beyond the usual manger scene. My dad made a huge life size cross and my mom decorated it with lights. Our focus was to show that the Christmas story went beyond the manger, to the cross.
At night, it was beautiful. The glow around the field in front of the church was magical..spiritual. After the first of the year, we packed away the Christmas manger decorations. But, weather forecasts predicted snow. So, we left the cross standing. We hoped for a Winter wonderland and to have an image of the sparkly cross in the snow.
Little did we know that decision would bring decades of misunderstanding. You see, some of the high school kids were out prowling the streets one night. They came down our dead end road and found our church with the cross lit up with lights. Their wild imaginations took over. From that point on, they labeled our church as a “KKK” church. With that label came teenage mischievousness.
Since we lived next door to the church, we began to dread the weekends. The rumor spread quickly through the high school and to other schools. Pranksters would visit and leave their marks…bad words painted onto the side of the building or eggs thrown on the doors and signs. If they didn’t leave a physical mark, they left mental and emotional marks. Many a weekend night they awakened us to honking of horns and shouting. The teens were adamant in trying to make our life miserable all because they misunderstood a decoration — a decoration they had never even seen.
Through the years, the pranks and meanness subsided.
It faded to only happening every once in a while in the Summer. For the
past five years we thought faded memories had perhaps lifted the scarlet letter against our church.
That was until a few days ago. My husband had a conversation with a co-worker explaining where he lived. Since our street is next to major highway reconstruction in the city, it’s a hot topic. The co-worker replied, “Oh, you live on that street where there’s a KKK church at the end of the road. My son is in high school and the kids talk about it.”
22 years and still others deem a false story as truth. Apparently, the repeated untruth had only lay dormant like an airborne plague.
There are many levels of lessons in this story.
Be careful of repeating stories deemed as truth. Make sure you know the source.
But, for me as a life-long resident of the street, member and leader of the church and a writer it saddens me that the real truths of our little church and street go unsung.
For instance, our street was part of a farming community years ago. The little church was one of the few in the Florence Hill Community. The land surrounding our church had little cabins and shacks on it. It was in these homes that hard-working families worked the land and supported the growing city.
It blessed me as a youth to get to visit with some old-timers back in the ‘80’s. Their health may have been failing, but not their memories.
Memories such as that of a community well where the wagons with horses hauling grain would pull up for refreshment. But, perhaps the greatest story was that of a young and boisterous couple cruising down the street in their motor car. Because they robbed banks, they kept to the back roads when driving. The folks on the street knew that when Bonnie and Clyde drove down the little one lane street, it was best to keep your eyes down. Before the days of telephone, they knew the places they could hide out without fear of the eyes of the law
Through the years, the attendance to our church has ebbed and flowed. Like many small churches in America now, attendance waivers between the 10 to 20 worshipers.
As for our little church, yes we still have a worship service once a week. Inside the wooden doors you can walk on plank wood floors that many a person has walked on for well over 60 years. One dear saint long gone said she many times saw the angels sitting on the roof. She shared years ago, “I never fear walking down this street, because I can see the angels above the treetops of the church building.”
Many a time I can sit in one of our services, and I don’t feel as though I’m sitting in a sparsely attended service. I know that I feel the angels around us as we worship our Savior and sing good old-fashioned Southern Gospel praises.
So, readers, bear with me for the next few postings. I feel compelled to share truths from my walk with the Lord as it revolves around our little church.
If there can be any other lesson for you in this story, it is this. I don’t know where you are in the walk with the Lord or whether you attend church. But, I ask you to prayerfully consider your spiritual walk. Ask Him to reveal if there are any untruths lurking that are keeping you from a closeness with the Lord.