Did you ever go to a tent meeting? Do you even know what a tent meeting is?
I’ve told you in earlier posts that we attended the church of Christ and that my dad eventually became a gospel preacher. During the summer months, gospel meetings were held and we didn’t miss many of them. A preacher from out of town would be invited to preach and he usually stayed with one of the families of the congregation while he was in town. The meetings would always start on Sunday. After morning services ended, there would be a dinner on the ground. On Saturday, the local farmers would bring their wagons up the hill and set them up to be used as tables. After church, the ladies would then cover those tables with the most delicious homemade dishes you ever tasted. There was always fried chicken, green beans, corn, fresh tomatoes and desserts galore. Following the meal, everyone would go back into the church building to sing for a couple of hours. Folks from all over the area would come to the singing and I can tell you, there’s nothing more beautiful than a group of people singing those good old hymns.
Not only did the churches hold gospel meetings, a couple of times a year, tent meetings would be held, usually in Griggstown. And, it was exactly what it sounds like. They would get the tents from one of the local funeral homes, along with folding chairs. The tent would usually seat about 100 people; and if the preacher was really good, folks would be standing. Now, since these meetings were held in late summer, it would be blazing hot so the funeral home would also furnish enough funeral fans so everyone could stay cool.
Funeral fans were pieces of cardboard stapled to a stick similar to a tongue depressor, only larger. The fans had a variety of pictures of Jesus on them and they sure could cool a person. The mosquitoes would practically carry us off though. On very rare occasions, Mom would allow Cheryl and me to dress in our pajamas and stay in the car. I remember Bill Hatcher preaching at the tent meetings. He was a “fire and brimstone” preacher and he would scare me to death. I just knew that whatever I did wrong would take me straight to hell. He was a wonderful person and one of the best preachers that I ever heard. He might have even been one of the people who encouraged my dad to become a gospel preacher.
I don’t know if tent meetings are held anymore and I’m not sure many people would be willing to sit under a tent in sweltering heat to hear someone preach. But it was a very memorable time for me.
See ya next Wednesday.