By Harold Brummett

Church has always been a big part of country life, and Lafayette County has churches and denominations for almost every conviction.<>

Throughout the county church is the center of the community. Church is where people meet, get to know one another, make deals, push political agendas, garner support for various causes and charities and occasionally worship. If you are new to the County visit around, you may or may not find a place that seems right. Everyone should go, meet the people and gain the experience.

It has been years since I attended church. Steady in attendance for a while after retiring from the Army it became apparent that this was not the place for us. We visited around and eventually stopped altogether. In a way, church is missed, in another absence feels like freedom. No doubt I am better for the experience.

A Baptist, I have been known to visit a Unitarian church (particularly when I travel). Unitarians always are welcoming, interesting to watch and always have coffee, cookies and every once in awhile a potluck that is usually heavy on beans, rice and other vegetarian fare. The food is wonderful in its variety, cooked or not cooked, undercooked depending on the proclivities of the person presenting the dish. Never one to shy away, it was rare that I was disappointed. Food is central to both Baptists and Unitarians, one concentrates on quantity and the other on uniqueness.

I enjoy the Catholic Church. Dad’s advice to me when I went in the Army was to go to the Catholic Church. I will not repeat why, but it was advice that proved its worth on more than one occasion. When the Catholics have their annual fish fry’s around Easter every year, I like going there on Fridays with the Knights of Columbus cooking and breaking bread with them.

The church I grew up in out in the county is gone now but had a balcony where the ‘Black folks’ worshiped with us. As a child, I wondered why they were allowed to be a little closer to the Lord, and we had to sit under their feet. It was all about perspective I suppose. That church was torn down, a new modern church built, and no more African Americans worshiped there. There is a ‘colored’ section in the cemetery.

The African American residents of that part of the cemetery started out separated from rest of the occupants, but as time passed as well as the parishioners, the area has slowly started to fill in around them. Integration by attrition I suppose. There was allegedly a few Native American graves as well, supposedly identified by the piles of stone that was stacked above their graves.

African American Churches that I have attended always made me feel welcome. The preaching is earnest, sincere, loud and leaves the listener no doubt that the Lord is alive and moving in the congregation. The Baptists were like this at one time and participatory religion missed. It seems now if someone gives the Preacher an Amen, half the congregation stares at the zealot and the other half check their watches hoping the Preacher isn’t thrown off stride.

The most heartfelt services I attended was in the Army and to paraphrase Forrest Gump, that is all I will say about that. I made one good Chaplin friend, John and we correspond on occasion. I visited John a couple of years ago; he was living outside of Chicago. I was worried about him; having just retired from the Army John lost his wife just days after he retired. Showing the qualities of Job, John was not bitter, just sad at all the retirement plans they had made and now buried with her.

Find a place to go to church, go there and see if it is right for you. There are lots of people to meet and programs for the kids. Maybe the church will fit, maybe not. Like my friend John would say, do not go to church for the answers, go there for the questions and the answers will reveal themselves.

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