Saturday, October 04, 2014


a building used for public Christian worship

I grew up in a Catholic home in a predominately Catholic community.  When I was young, we attended a beautiful old church with stained glass windows, ornate ceilings, statues, marble floors, incense, lots of candles, hard seats, and kneelers.  I had little to no appreciation for those things at the time.  

Mass was said in Latin, so most of the time I had no idea what I was supposed to be thinking about, other than the broad concepts of God and Jesus and my personal sins.

In reality, what I mostly thought about were SHOES.  

In order to pass the time--which I am quite certain should have been spent praying--I observed and judged the ladies'  shoes   

If I was fortunate enough to get an end seat on the pew, it was a good day at church. From that vantage point, I could get a good look at shoes when the ladies walked back from receiving communion.  If I had to sit on the inside, it could still be done; but it was much more challenging and much less enjoyable.

I do not remember doing this in every church I attended, so I must have eventually started paying better attention to the priest.  It probably coincided to the time that the Mass began being said in English. 

I may or may not still look at shoes in church.  Okay, I still do look at shoes--but it is before and after the service, not in the middle--usually. 

All posts from the 31 Words project can be found here.


Lisa said...

So many things run through my mind when I think of the word "church". But one memory sticks out more than others and only because I still think about it and laugh to this day.
I wanted high heels. I had begged for heels since all the other girls wore them to Sunday school. I was around 14 and my mom decided I could have a pair. We went out and bought this gorgeous pair of red Candie's slides (yes, I'm a child of the 80's). I loved those shoes and couldn't wait for Sunday morning. I got up, got dressed and slid into my new heels. We drove to church like we did every week, the anticipation of showing my friends my "heels" rising. I started down the stairs into the basement where the classrooms were and tumbled to the bottom, breaking not only my pride, my 2nd toe, and mangling my beautiful shoes in the process. I learned that coveting was wrong, and was left with a crooked toe for eternity.

Jen said...

The first church I remember going to was called Christ's Chapel. At some sort of summer event, think like VBS, my age group was down in a basement room. I don't remember the lesson, but I remember making microwave s'mores with zebra striped Hershey kisses. Also, once our lesson was over, we would go up to the sanctuary and get to pick a small prize out of a cardboard treasure chest.

Kimberly Hoyt said...

My family didn't go to church, but when I was in elementary school, a neighbor asked my mom if I could go with them each week. I loved Sunday School, with the flannel graph stories and songs and games. But we moved away and my church going came to a halt.

It was years later when a pair of shoes played a prominent role in me returning to church...

My younger sister had gotten new shoes and I was a little jealous. I don't remember why I didn't get new ones too (probably didn't need them, while she did) but for whatever reason, I was really upset. So when she invited me to church -- yet again -- I refused, pouting and saying that the reason I couldn't go was because I didn't have new shoes! Without missing a beat, my sister said, "You can wear my new ones." Well! What do you say to that? So I went to church with her the next day, and the Lord began to work in my heart. All because of a pair of new shoes!

Denise Voccola said...

I love that story, Kimberly.

Oh, Lisa, so sorry. :(

Emily Noe said...

This has been too hard to choose just ONE memory!!! My childhood and church are synonymous!! I could write an entire book :) I'll pick just one to save space! I absolutely loved being a part of GAs (Girls in Action) at Buffalo Trail Baptist Church!! My mom was WMU director for many years and was a huge influence on me. She spent many hours through the years helping me with projects and activities and taking me to meetings and camps. My friends and I met weekly at church to learn about missions and missionaries and the Great Commission. We worked through our Mission Adventures books and earned a patch for completing each book. In the summer, we had a grand time at GA camp at Camp Carson. Great memories were made there that I'll never forget. We met missionaries, had daily personal Bible study, and enjoyed outdoor activities! I would not trade anything for the love of missions that my experience in GAs implanted in my heart! I included a pic of my friends and me at our ceremony at church where we earned our patches :) I'm on the far right.

Lisa Biery said...

Lisa Auton Biery Day 5. Church. I remember the little red sign in book that sat at the end of the pew. The person sitting there would "sign in" and then pass the book to the next person and so forth. One Sunday, the book stopped with me. I filled it up with a bunch of made up names. I'm not sure why I thought that was a good idea with my dad sitting right next to me. Well, even with him not there, I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea. I was writing which means I had to be at least 6 or 7...old enough to know better. When he didn't notice, I just kept writing in made up names...until he noticed.

Mel said...

My grandma always had me stay at her house on Saturday nights, and go to the little country Baptist church with her on Sunday. This went on for years, yet I never accepted Christ. My friends in the class all did, but I was 27 before I accepted Christ. Meanwhile, every person in that Sunday School class became a Pastor or Missionary! Seriously! Imagine the joy when they found out I'd accepted Christ. Now, we are all in ministry-b/c we also are in local ministry, involved in Missions, and in Bible School

Lisa Balough said...

My earliest memories of church are not really church-related. My parents were both raised Presbyterian and we attended an ancient-looking, very formal Presbyterian Church downtown. The first memory of church I have is actually an image in my mind of the matching outfits my mother sewed for she and I to wear to church. There is a photo taken on the sidewalk in front of the church, which would most definitely be worth 1000 words in this case. Unfortunately, I don’t have it. My Mom is a wonderful seamstress, although I have seen her yell at the Singer before, which has nothing to do with this memory. Perhaps there was a sale on mint green polyester with large white polka-dots. Perhaps it was stylish in the early 70’s. I loved the outfit then but the thought of all that mint now kind of scares me. I was so proud of it though because we were wearing the same thing: polka-dotted jackets with matching skirts and matching pants for colder Sundays. To say you could see us coming was probably an understatement.

Sonya Tichenor said...

The earliest memory I have of sitting in big church is being bored around the age of 4. I remember my dad drawing monkeys for me. I remember picking at my mother's fingernail polish, and I could not understand why she would stop me when it was so much fun! (I still kinda like peeling off fingernail polish, although it's usually not in church now.) When I was older, I would check out a book from the church library, and sit toward the back of the church and read during the sermon. Eventually, my mother put a stop to that. I'm happy to report that I am generally able to pay attention during the entire service now.

Heather Sparks said...

My earliest memories of church are of the church we attended in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My grandfather was the pastor and my father led the music and played the piano there. Sunday ritual always started on Saturday evening. After baths, my sisters and I lined up for Mom to curl our hair with sponge rollers. Then we marched off to bed while Mom ironed all of our dresses for the next morning. These dresses more often than not were matching. Sunday morning, Mom would wake us up early to eat, dress in our matching dresses (slips, tights, and black shoes always) and undo all of the rollers. Once the curls and bangs met with Mom's approval, we donned coats, scarves and mittens to brave the long walk to church in sub - zero weather. (The church was only two doors down from our house. Lol.) We walked the sidewalk that seemed more like a maze with snow shoveled six feet high or more on each side. At church I remember bracing myself on the pew in front of me as I tried to sit on my grandmother's lap. Grandma is less than 5 feet tall and her lap was difficult to perch upon with her polyester dresses and hose creating more of a slide effect. But sitting with Grandma was great because she always shared her mint Lifesavers or Certs. :)

Audra Picarello said...

I remember Sunday school class, and almost always knowing the answers... all the dresses I wore to church, especially a pink gingham one. I didn't like pink, but I did like that dress. Most of all, I remember participating in Bible drill and how good I used to be at finding different books in the Bible! I miss being able to find them so quickly. :)

Sabrina said...

One of my earliest memories of "church" didn't even happen at church. It was "Tuesday night visitation" when the pastor and deacon called my parents to say they were planning to stop by and visit. I was almost 4 years old. We had been to church for one of the first times ever the week before. We didn't know these men. My mom started running around the house cleaning, throwing toys in our playroom, yelling at my dad to help her clean up the house because the preacher was coming over. As soon as the really tall preacher and even taller deacon knocked on the door and came inside, I told them how much my mom had been yelling at my daddy before they got there. The really tall deacon took my sister (8 months old) and I into our playroom and sat on the floor and played with us. That night, Jesus came to live in our home. Even though it started with yelling and fighting, it ended with my parents kneeling at the couch in surrender. Nothing was ever the same.

Kelly H. said...

“No place is so dear to my childhood…” I grew up in a country parsonage at the foot of a little hill, by West Virginia standards. At the top of that hill was the small church that my father pastored. I loved every inch of that building and surrounding property. We spent nearly as much time in the church as we did at the house. If Dad was studying, we would play with toys in the nursery rooms, or write on the chalkboards in the Sunday School rooms. We thought it was fun to use the red ink pad to stamp the church service times on the back of fresh boxes of tracts that would be given out on visitation night. We cleaned the church together on Saturdays while listening to Mountaineer football games through the church sound system. We were allowed to swim in the baptistery for a couple of days after baptismal services before Dad drained it. We roller skated and shot basketball in the church gym. I played the piano for countless hours in that little sanctuary, laying my gloves over the piano lamp to warm up for the walk back down the hill. I enjoyed walking through the cemetery beside the church, visiting those who had finished their course. I would often stay there for hours reading or even praying.
Easter sunrise services. Pot luck dinners, coffee percolating in the basement during the service. Bundt cakes, each piece smiling from its Styrofoam plate. VBS, Popsicle stick crafts, church camps, youth rallies. Charts and stars for dozens of Bible verses memorized. Constant stream of funerals. Playing sweet hymns while my parents sang together, even though Mom never loved it. Revival services, visitation night, choir practice, Christmas cantata, caroling to the shut-ins. Missionaries who stayed at the parsonage with us, sleeping in my white canopy bed, which I was glad to relinquish. Simple, country weddings. Shiny, new couples posing for pictures in front of dingy, old paneling. Putting up new bulletin boards, spelling out beloved verses with construction paper letters. Building scale models of the tabernacle in children’s church. I loved every single thing about it.
Far more important than the memories being made, though, was the work being done in my young heart. I learned to cherish God’s Word, His people, and His work. I learned from my parents’ example to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Fervent meaning “stretched and strained to one’s limits.” They often were, and I sometimes still am, but the work is worth the effort.
Lest you think that everything was perfect, let me say that my parents were deeply hurt in this same church, as I know many people often are. It breaks my heart to hear that story. I’ve been hurt deeply myself by everything from insincerity, thoughtlessness, to out-right deception and rejection. Churches are full of sinners. Some of them understand how lost they used to be. Some of them cannot fathom that they are still lost. The arm of flesh will fail you, as the Psalmist and the green hymnal both remind us. My trust is not in church…the institution itself, or any particular local body. My trust is fully in the Chief Cornerstone.

MsHouse121 said...

Church was a big part of my childhood. One of the fondest memories of Church when I was growing up walking to Church with my mamaw and papaw when we would spend Saturday nights with them. I so enjoyed the 15 to 20 minute walk, as they would always talk to us about being good and tell us stories. I can still hear grandparents voices in my mind as we would sing all those old Hymns together. After church we would head back to her house and wait on mamaw to fix up her delicious fried Chicken with all the fixings. I also enjoyed going to church on Mother's day. We would all head out to my mom's rose bush she would let each of us, me, my sister, two brothers and my cousin who lived with us at the time all pick out a rose that she would pin to our Sunday clothes. Never missed a year that we didn't head to church on Mother's day without our roses. I also remember that if we didn't behave in church, Mom would fire our hind ends up when we got home, I kid you not! lol. I had wonderful Sunday school teachers and enjoyed memorizing scripture each week. Bible School was always the highlights of the year when it came to church! I Loved Bible School! Who couldn't forget the feasts we would have at homecoming delicious! I enjoyed sitting in church as a family then going home to eat a grandmothers, then on pretty days dad would always take us out for a Sunday ride and we would always stop and get us ice cream! Sure to miss those days!

Create in Me said...

I was born and raised as a missionary kid in Chile. As you can imagine I, therefore, grew up in church. Once I walked through those church doors, I would be devoured; I disappeared into the arms of nursery workers, or any churchgoer that could get their hands on me. Not only was I the youngest, and therefore cutest, of the gringo family, I was extra special because I was born in Chile. The Chileans loved me for it and lavished me with favor. Yes, I was spoiled rotten.
Most Sundays, especially in my early childhood years, consisted of or six party family climbing into our light blue Suburban and methodically making room for the next 4-10 extra kids we would pick up on our way. Needless to say, no one wore seat belts and we were always stuffed to the max in that majestic car like sardines. I remember at times having up to five people crammed in the cargo room in the back.
One such Sunday my folks left church with their car full and didn’t realize that I had been left behind. (think Home Alone.) Evidently my parents didn’t even notice my absence till they got home, hours after they had left me behind. Fortunately, since I was the church pet, some sweet family realized that my parents had left without me and took me home with them. The fantastic part of this story is that as little as I personally remember about this story, one thing that I do recall is that I was happy and understood that I would be well taken care of; I do not recall having any fear or a sense of abandonment. I guess my little six year old mind understood the basics of my parents love for me and was not traumatized about the simple, unintentional mishap. I remember walking a long time up and around the hills of our neighboring town of Valparaiso. It turned out to be a very special day in which I was able to go to my friend’s house and be treated like a queen. I’m telling ya’, I was a queen!

Kathy Wiedemann said...

Day 5 Church
Not many childhood memories of church because we were always moving and were not in church anywhere until I was grown. The only time I was in a church after about the age of 6 was when we went to book the chapel on base for our wedding in 1984.
Before that, the only church I was in was my grandparents’ church. They shared the pastoral responsibilities. They each called themselves the pastor of that little Holiness Chapel. In the final years of his life, my grandfather actually started another little church across the state line, without my grandmother. He would drive over on Saturday night and sleep in the room behind the pulpit so he’d be there bright and early Sunday morning. She would preach at the other little church. They did this for 7 or 8 years before cancer took him in 1989.
As a small child I can remember dreading Sunday morning, especially in winter! The only time I wore a skirt (and those retched pantyhose were a required accessory, even at 6 years old!) was when I went to church with my grandparents. (I didn’t even own another skirt until I was in high school after we moved away.) I would often spend the night at my Mamaw’s house and we would have to get up super early to get the lights turned on and that horrible furnace going so the church would warm up. Once the first people (they all seemed to be as old as dinosaurs to me!) started to arrive, we had to sit in our pew (right up front where we could be watched) and not speak or move. My grandparents would lead the singing and then Mamaw would sit next to us as Papaw preached and pinch a hole in your leg if you dared make a sound, look away, cross your legs, or, worst of all, cough or doze off! I can remember painful bruises all over my thighs from church visits.
Church would last about three (loud) hours, or more, and then we had to endure the long ride home with Miss Hattie, the spinster lady my grandmother always picked up. She smelled weird and always liked to touch me. (shivers)
After church on Sunday afternoon was the best! We did not eat breakfast because she “didn’t have time to cook and get the church open, for goodness’ sakes”! Once we got home, oh my. The smells that came out of that kitchen! She usually pre-cooked some of the meal Saturday evening, so it didn’t take long to set a feast before us! The table was always so full things seemed to be stacked on top of things! Those are some of my fondest memories…those big family dinners after church on Sundays. Then we cleaned it all up and headed back to church for three more hours!

Niki Carroll said...

I remember I use to walk to church when I was younger. It wasn't in 4 feet of snow, barefoot, and up hill both ways. It was just down the road a bit. I loved to go church. I would always go alone. I always wanted my family to go but it was usually just me. Then God sent me Mrs. Stapleton. She was the neighbor that lived in the house across from me. She would walk to church also. She started to wait for me when she found out I was walking alone. We walked together. She talked to me about God. She spoke of prayer time and spending time in God's presence. This was something I had never heard before. A few times she invited me over after church to eat with her. She always had goodies for me. I loved going to her house. It was peaceful there. I will never forget our walks to church. She was a very humble woman that spoke a lot of wisdom into my life. I don't remember a lot about the church but I will never forget the walk there!

Lanette said...


My entire childhood was centered around church. When I was 5 years old my Dad was hired by United Parcel Service and we moved about an hour and 15 minutes away from all of our family. That doesn't sound that far but in those days it was the same as moving hours away. Boy, what I would have given to had no long distance and FaceTime. We still saw them on holidays and they mailed me cards. It was hard.

God did great things with my young parents and used them as church planters. They were two of thirteen people who began Highland Baptist Church in Whitesburg, TN. This is still the church they attend to this day.

We were at the church all the time: Sunday and Wednesday services, visitation, choir practice, deacon meetings, youth events, etc.

During the early days of the church history, we used the sanctuary in a funeral home to hold the services. This really spooked me out as a child. When a family chose to have their funeral service on Sunday, we had church at our house.