Remembering summers of revivals

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Those damp, and cold days of February started me remembering the long hot summers of my childhood. In fact, I almost wished for them once again.

Back in the 30s there were no little league games, nor any other planned activities by the city for our young people. Of course, Mr. and Mrs. Larry Hunter provided ball games, swimming lessons and other activities on their own for the young people. The one thing that you could count on would be the revival meetings that each church had. We went to the other churches’ revivals as well as our own.

There was no Emmanuel Baptist Church, no Parkway  Church, no North Acres Baptist Church back then, only the First Baptist Church and Calvary Baptist Church. Of course we had the First United Methodist Church and the Minden Presbyterian Church, the Episcopal Church, the Catholic Church and the Pentecostal Church. I believe the Nazarene and the Assembly of God churches were here then, too. Some of these churches held summer revivals that often went for two weeks. At least at First Baptist Church some of ours went that long.

We visited the other churches during their revivals and listened to some great preaching. It was hot, and we often stuck to the pews since our church was not air conditioned until about 1948.

The Baptist revival was held at night in the Tabernacle. Often hoboes would slip in the back and listen to the preaching. To the audience’s right of the choir were seats placed at a right angle to the congregation. Often members of the black community would come to the meetings and sit there. The morning services were in the auditorium of the church.
Food and Fellowship

For weeks ahead plans were made for ladies to feed the visiting evangelistic team. Ladies who were good cooks were lined up first, and then others were contacted. I don’t suppose it ever occurred to take them to a cafe for a meal.

The choir was full each night, and all those old hymns were sung and had the congregation ready for the message. In preparation for the revival, prayer meetings were arranged all over town. I can remember when we would have dozens of prayer meeting each night all over town.

If you had a prayer meeting at your home, you were responsible for notifying the neighbors and anyone else you wanted to invite. Those prayer meetings were the main reason for the success of the revivals.

Our hearts were ready to hear God’s message and we were willing to go out and witness.

I remember that during the week the men came to the church about five or six o’clock and picked up the name of a prospect, and then they went out by twos and visited the families and came back in time for the night revival services.

The revivals always interfered with the ladies’ canning. It might be during the time the peaches were ready to be canned, or the figs, and certainly peas. But if they could not make every morning service they were there at night.

Wiggles in the Sawdust

I have written about the sawdust on the floor of the tabernacle. Things wiggled in that sawdust. By the time I was 13 I sang in the adult choir and the choir platform was about four or five feet above the regular floor, and it had a wooden floor. (thank goodness!)

When I had to sit down in the congregation I always put my feet up on the cross brace of the pew in front of me. I didn’t want to take any chances about what that was wiggling in the sawdust.

I think that there were over 200 saved one summer. Not all were from our church but some were from towns outside Minden. Our pastor baptized on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night for several weeks getting them all baptized. We were uplifted but we were also worn out from the long meetings.

Vacation Bible School

Back then our Vacation Bible Schools lasted two weeks. If we were too old for the classes we worked with the younger children. It was a long, hard two weeks for the ladies, as well as the children were tired when it was over. The last night (we called it “graduation”) the parents came and watched the children as they performed either reciting scriptures or singing. They also had their handwork on display.

And then there were the Friday night band concerts in the park downtown. All ages turned out to hear the music that they played. In fact all ages formed the band, from young people in the high school band to older business men like Leland Mims, Joe Miller, Mrs Inabnett, Leon Adkins, Cat Parker and others.It was the love of music that was the common denominator of all those who attended. Little children played on the swings, or on the grass, while the older folks brought lawn chairs or even sat on the grass to listen to the music.

There was no planned music they just drifted from one song into another. Of course if the revival was in progress I was required to go there instead of the band concert.

Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years until her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing select articles from Mrs. Agan’s Cameos column every Wednesday.

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