?The Old Regular 1 Baptist Church
Si -^m_ ii II
by Ethlyn Maggard
Setting: About a mile up in a hollow in an Appalacian neighborhood. There a family lives in an unpainted framed house. The house is situated against the hillside. A barn and chicken house are nearby. At the mouth of the hollow, a small, simple white church stands. The Slone family attends this church.
One warm Sunday morning at six o'clock, the sun shone brightly on the tin roof of the Slone family home. The birds were singing their pretty songs, the roosters were crowing, and the cow was mooing. Mrs. James Slone awoke to these sounds every morning. She never used an alarm clock. She got up unhesitatingly this morning for it was meeting time at the Old Regular Baptist Church that she had been brought up to believe in. Only three years ago, she had been baptized in a hole of water near the church. Since the services are held in the Old Regular Baptist Churches only once a month, members of one Church commute to the services of other Old Regular Baptist Churches the other Sundays. For the members of the home church, it is customary to prepare dinner for visiting brethren. Thus Mrs. Slone began scurrying about in the kitchen to get breakfast ready and served. She rattled the pots and pans louder than usual so as to awake her three teen-age daughters whose bedroom wall joined the kitchen wall. They would soon have to be getting up to wash the dishes and tidy up the house.
Meanwhile, Mr. Slone, who slept only ten minutes later than Mrs.
This essay was originally written as an assignment for a sociology class at Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, where Miss Maggard--a native of the mountains--is a student.
Slone, was getting up to go to the barn to feed and water the stock. He then came back to the house to wash. He interrupted Mrs. Slone to fix the milk bucket. She was putting her delicious homemade biscuits into the two large pans that she used to bake them in. Her family was a big biscuit eater, and on Sunday mornings when they usually had fried chicken, they ate even more biscuits. Mrs. Slone began singing "Amazing Grace. "
Soon Mr. Slone had returned with the milk, and again Mrs. Slone had to stop cooking to carefully strain the milk and put it away. Mr. Slone then went out to let out the chickens which he fed big ears of corn he had planted last year. He began to sing too, when he heard his wife singing her long, lonesome version of 'Amazing Grace, " typical of the way all songs are sung in the Old Regular Baptist Church.
In the two adjoining bedrooms, their teen-age daughters and son were awake. They lay, however, until their mother called them to the good breakfast of fried chicken, biscuits, gravy, and milk or coffee. All the family except Mrs. Slone sat down to the breakfast, but never said a blessing. Old Regular Baptists don't usually say blessings before meals. Mrs. Slone was still standing when the chicken was being passed. She had waited to put the second pan of biscuits in the oven.
Billy, their only son at home, was sixteen. He hurriedly ate his breakfast. He knew he had to take the cow to the pasture and then he was free for the day until time for the night milking. The rest of the family finished eating soon afterward.
Mrs. Slone gave orders to her daughters about dinner. The children seldom went to church. The Old Regular Baptist Church offers little to nothing to make young people want to attend. There lies a large gap between the church and the young. Short hair
for girls, make-up, and jewelry are not to be worn by members of the church. Thus, the young people of Old Regular Baptist, who do not wish to be different from the young people with whom they go to school, stay home and cook dinner for their parents and any guests they may bring home with them.
Mrs. Slone laid out her husband's clothes for him. His Sunday outfit consists of a neatly ironed white shirt and gray pants; he wore no coat or tie. While there were members of the church who did, Mr. Slone felt that too many people were abandoning the beliefs of the old hardliners. One of his married sons had bought him a wrist watch for his birthday, but Mr. Slone refused to wear it and gave it to his son instead.
After she had dressed, Mrs. Slone went into the kitchen to give her daughters last minute orders about preparing dinner. All of her daughters could cook almost as well as she, but they sometimes had difficulty in the time they prepared their meals. They would sometimes have bread done long before the time for serving. But, on the whole, their cooking was sufficient enough, not only to keep them from being ashamed of it, but to make them proud of it. Any mountain girl was supposed to be a good cook, and guest were often the parents of good looking sons. The girls were concerned about what they would tell them their cooking was like.
Thus, the parents were reasonably assured of bringing guests home to a well-cooked and well-prepared dinner.
When Mr. and Mrs. Slone left the house they carried no Bible. They would not need one at the services because the services are very simple and are designed for the illiterate. In the church there is no Bible reading. The language used in the sermons is very plain. Yes, there are as many continued on page 13 S