Most of my regular readers of this column know that I was not born right here in Newport; but I was raised right here in Newport – as a Methodist!
Yep, that’s right; my mom and dad were members of the First Methodist Church where we lived. I was seven when we moved to Newport; and had seven years of perfect attendance Sunday school pins.
They joined the First Methodist Church in the beautiful – but old – building downtown. The Baptist and Presbyterian Churches were within spittin’ distance of our Church and we shared various resources (like choir leaders and young people) with each other.
I became a member; and was there when the congregation moved to its present location on Third Street and Washington Avenue.
And so, I have many friends in that church and in that denomination – and many wonderful memories of growing up there.
Becoming a Baptist pastor is a long story – and you don’t want to hear it now; so, let’s just move on to my title for today.
I love my friends in whatever church they attend and worship. I like to tease and have fun on the way to heaven – you know – enjoy the trip.
So, when a member of our church passed away; and the burial was to take place in the Chestnut Hill Cemetery, it forced me to go kicking and screaming against my will into the presence of – some Methodists!!!!!
Oh mercy me, what will I do????? How will I ever survive this ordeal?????
I am reminded of the old deacon who was giving the annual report in his Baptist church (we Baptists like to give reports); and he said (if you have heard this one – please fast forward through the next couple of paragraphs) – but this old gentleman reported: “Well, we didn’t do too well this year. Attendance is down, giving is down, morale is down – but, praise the Lord, the Methodists down the street didn’t do no good either!”
I can change the wording on that to tease with my Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholic, Pentecostal — or whatever — friends.
But, isn’t that taking the “Christian Faith” to a totally illogical conclusion? What was wrong with that picture?
Anyway; we had the graveside service in the Chestnut Hill Cemetery by the Methodist Church – and they had the nerve to ask me to invite everyone to the fellowship hall to eat lunch – Methodist food!
Good grief, is there no shame? Is there no depths to which I will descend to get a free meal?
But, I faithfully and flawlessly performed my duties and invited everyone to “come and dine”; and then made my way like a sheep to the slaughter to the fellowship hall of the Chestnut Hill Methodist Church. Shucks, they even asked me to ask the blessing (or “say grace” or “bless the food” – however you say it – it’s all the same) – and I did!
And then I ate! And you know what – I know you’re not going to believe this, but it’s true – with all the teasing about “immersing or sprinkling” the chicken – you know that food tasted just like “normal” food. It did! It did!
I’m telling you, the biscuits looked and tasted like – well biscuits, and the ham, and deviled eggs – and (I know you’re not going to believe this) so did the coffee!
The same thing could be said about the conversation around the tables – it was just good conversation with both old friends and new acquaintances.
Hey, those ladies did well! They did it up right!
You know I have written this with tongue in cheek – you guys know that; but the point can be made that Jesus Christ died for us all; and whenever and where ever Christ is preached, I rejoice. Whenever and where ever Christ is held up, I thank God!
After all; aren’t we sorta supposed to be in this thing together?
Tom Mooty was raised in Newport; and has served as Pastor to the West End Baptist Church for a total aggregate of thirty-four years. You are encouraged to contact Mooty with your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.