For about 10 years – the bulk of my childhood – life revolved happily around the church my father pastored in Macon. Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights were always spent at West Highland Baptist.
It has been 20 years since my dad served there, but last Sunday he was asked to come preach for their Homecoming Service. I couldn’t miss the chance to revisit that wonderful church and see Dad up there behind the pulpit again.
The building has been expanded, but the center of the church is still filled with the same blue upholstered pews where I squirmed as a child. Where, if I got too chatty with my neighbor, Dad would say from the pulpit, “Now Ginger, I need you to pay attention.” That’ll make you be quiet and sit up a little straighter for sure.
They are still singing out of the same hymnals we used, singing the songs I learned there, like Blessed Assurance. “This is my story / this is my song,” we sang last Sunday morning. And I thought, “Yes, this is my story.”
Familiar faces filled those pews, bringing back lots of good memories. My childhood best friend, with whom I shared many, many a service at West Highland, was there for Homecoming too.
Seeing Erica meant so much, and I marveled at how instantaneously Camille hit it off with Erica’s oldest. They were holding hands and sharing a chair at lunch and generally enamored with each other, and I saw something of our childhood friendship there. And it was good.
After the service, Erica and I explored with the girls a bit. We visited the baptistry where I was baptized, right next to the window where we crawled out onto the church’s roof and got in trouble for tracking tar everywhere. There was the preschool area where I had Sunday School, next to the lawn where Jeff kicked a soccer ball through the stained glass windows of the sanctuary.
It was in front of those windows that I was photographed with my Dad – I think it was the day I was baptized.
I’m so glad I went back, and that it still felt familiar in all the best ways. I’m glad to know that even if you must leave a place that is dear, it never really leaves you.