Growing Up Presbyterian
October 31st was the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther publishing his 95 Theses, which started the Reformation.
One of the denominations that came out of the Reformation, besides Lutheran, is Presbyterian.
Presbyterianism was especially influenced by the French theologian John Calvin, who is credited with the development of Reformed theology, and the work of John Knox, a Scotsman and a Roman Catholic Priest, who studied with Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland. He brought back Reformed teachings to Scotland.
I grew up in a Presbyterian church, a descendant of 5 of the founding members and a descendant of a relative who joined shortly after the founding.
Every Sunday was a family reunion with grandparents, great grandparents, great aunts, and uncles. One of the times we got a new minister, Mom was in the middle of introducing him to all our relatives when he asked if there was anyone in the church who was NOT related to our family. Mom laughed and said yes there were people who were not our relatives.
There was Vacation Bible School every Summer which meant singing Onward Christian Soldiers and marching in place. Sunday School meant watching the preacher’s son climb out the window and take off in a Southwestwardly direction.
During church, my family would sit in the front pew. The seating order was Paternal Grandpa, Paternal Grandma, Dad, Mom, Me and Sister. This way Grandma and Mom could elbow Dad when he fell asleep during the sermon.
The pews were a light wood with cushioning. Even the holders for the little communion glasses were wooden. This is where the adults put their little glass cup after drinking the juice during communion. My sister and I LOVED the sound the glasses made when adults put their glasses in the holder. It was a loud clankity clank that was music to our ears.
Speaking Of Music
Every Sunday I would eagerly scan the bulletin to see if we were singing my favorite hymn Holy, Holy, Holy. Yes, this was back in the day when we used hymnals. (This article explains why we should still be using them. )
If we were singing Sweet Hour of Prayer my sister and I would sit with our maternal grandparents because grandma’s friends could not sing on key. There were about a dozen women all singing the song with gusto and all singing in a different key. For some reason, their off-key singing was most notable during Sweet Hour of Prayer. My sister and I thought it was funny, but grandma did not.
In order to be a member, everyone in my Sunday School class had to have a one-on-one meeting with the minister before standing in front of the congregation and admitting we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That one-on-one meeting was terrifying. I imagine the terror I felt that day is only a small bit of the terror I will feel when standing before God one day.
I think we also went through some kind of class or curriculum but I do not remember. It was the meeting with the minister I remember the most.
Then I went off to college and eventually quit going to church, except when I was home. Even though I quit going to church, I never quit believing in God, Jesus the Holy Ghost. or true meaning of Christmas and Easter.
I Am A Brainiac
Presbyterians tend to be cerebral and can never have enough knowledge. That is me. Give me books so I can keep reading and learning about any subject, not just Christianity. However, what I read and learn stays in my brain and does not make its way down to my heart, which is bad because
A good man produces good deeds from a good heart. And an evil man produces evil deeds from his hidden wickedness. Whatever is in the heart overflows into speech.
The One Scripture
The one scripture I had memorized since childhood was:
16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
I am not sure if it was parents, grandparents or the church who drilled this into my brain – probably a combination of all three.
I’ve been a member the Reformed Church in America for many years. I chose the Reformed church because the theology was the same and the church is located within 10 minutes of my house. (The town I live in does not have a Presbyterian church.)
The Reformed Church in America (RCA) is a mainline Reformed Protestant denomination in Canada and the United States. It has about 223,675 members, with the total declining in recent decades. From its beginning in 1628 until 1819, it was the North American branch of the Dutch Reformed Church. In 1819 it incorporated as the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church. The current name was chosen in 1867.
However, I work Friday – Tuesday (since August) so no church for me – at least not in person.
Now I watch or listen to sermons online.
Would I change my Presbyterian upbringing – no. There are too many fond memories etched into my brain and heart.
Thank you, God, for the Presbyterian Church, the wonderful Christian education I got and the beautiful memories I have of that season of my life.
Speaking Of Sweet Hour of Prayer
By the way, what shape would your family, your city, your county, your state, our country, our world be in if we call spent an hour in sweet prayer?
Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while working as a call center team leader, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer.