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Some Church in Sulphur | Vintage Religion

Today, my daughter Bridgy was an altar server for the first time. I posted a picture on Instagram to commemorate the occasion.

Church has been a part of my life since before I was born. The older I get, the more I enjoy it, but I still get nostalgic for the past. I miss how church used to be, or maybe I just miss being 11, and all the church people in their 70s and 80s. I miss their farms and the fresh eggs they brought us and the milk they poured for us when we visited them for dinner. I miss the music most of all.

A friend from Sulphur, Oklahoma, emailed me these pictures. She knows how much I love old church photos and images from the 1960s and 1970s. I wasn’t sure what year these 35 mm slides were taken. At first I thought they might be from the 1950s, but judging from the woman’s purse below — one of those wicker basket suitcase purses — I think this was the era of the 1960s.

When I was in college in the late 1980s, churches began exchanging hymns for praise choruses. As a student at Southern Nazarene University, I followed a group of religion majors to a weekly praise service every week. It was held in a small white house near the campus, which is located in Bethany, Oklahoma. We all sat on the floor Indian style and lifted our hands in praise while we sang songs like My Delight by the Cadets. This was the first praise song I learned, and I loved it.

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after thee
Thou alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship thee
Thou alone are my strength, my shield
To Thee alone may my spirit yield
Thou alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship thee
Thou art my friend and you are my brother
Even though Thou are a king
I love Thee more than any other
So much more than anything

These were rather strange times for me as I had never ventured outside the Church of the Nazarene. The religion majors — two Johns and a Peter — were in steady disagreement with the theology professors at SNU. I never really understood why and never wanted to ask. They were devout Christians – holy young men who dearly loved God. They subscribed to the doctrine of holiness, the Wesleyan Tradition, and all are involved in ministry today.

It was a difficult situation for me, as I loved our professors so much and believed every word they said. They were scholars in their own right. Some of them spoke multiple languages including Greek and Hebrew. I admired them above all others and they impacted my life in so many wonderful ways.

The two Johns and Peter* were not Nazarene. They all attended a church called the Vineyard, which met in a hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. I went with them a few times, and although I cannot recall which hotel it was, it must have been the Sheraton. The services were held in a ballroom, and there was LOTS of praise music.

Ultimately, I was uncomfortable outside the walls of the Nazarene Church, and stopped going. Eventually, I became involved in inner city missions. I taught Sunday School to Hispanic kids at Central Church of the Nazarene, which no longer exists. One little girl I loved dearly was named Claudia. I used to pick her  up for church every Sunday on SW 44th Street. I think of her every now and then and wonder whatever became of her. She would be in her late 30s now.

All in all, my college experience was quite different from Greek life at state schools and universities. Some might say I lived cloistered, but it really wasn’t like that. I loved every minute of my college years, especially my years in ministry.

Anyway, these old pictures bring back a lot of memories. All the old ladies I remember looked just like the ladies in these images. They have all died, now. I wish I had been nicer to them. They always wanted to hug and kiss me and it drove me crazy. I did have my favorites, however, and the best of all was Pauline because she French-braided my hair. May her sweet soul rest in peace.

In honor of Bridgy’s first day as an altar server, I want to leave you with a beautiful hymn, Jewels, written by William Cushing in 1856. This video is a must-see and hear. It features the Alaska String Band, and it is utterly captivating. If you’re impatient, fast-foward to 53 seconds, but don’t miss Abigail at 2:29. This is so beautiful.

When He cometh, when He cometh,
To make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morning,
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.

He will gather, He will gather
The gems for His kingdom,
All the pure ones, all the bright ones,
His loved and His own.

Little children, little children,
Who love their Redeemer,
Are the jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

*Names changed for privacy

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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