Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blog 98: "The Most Segregated Hour"

By Vernon M. Herron

The late Benjamin E. Mays

It is interesting to note that one’s declaration can be legitimized by one’s observation. Several years ago, the late Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, a former President of Atlanta’s Morehouse College declared that “any Sunday, the 11 a.m. worship hour is the most segregated hour in America.” This observation was based on historical rural America. The 11 a.m. hour was at the half-way point between the morning and the afternoon milkings. This time was practical for the average American farm family without regard to race, class, creed or culture. This declaration had legitimacy at that time.

Since the time of Dr. Mays’ observation, many factors have influenced the difference in the time we worship; economics, sports, educational pursuits, travel, social and the mass media and many more elements. Today, at the 11 a.m. hour on any given Sunday, one could be at work, sitting in a classroom, attending a tail-gate party before a super football game or engaged in numerous other activities deemed essential to life in the 21st century. We now worship at any hour on the clock, whether it be morning, noon, afternoon or evening. Of necessity, for convenience or pleasure, we are most likely to worship at some hour other than on Sunday at 11 a.m. The spirit of worship is not confined to a date, nor time.

The folk song, “The Little Old Wooden Church on the Hill” made an indelible impression on me regarding the 11 a.m. service. Here is a story in song:

It was in my childhood, many years ago,
with the spirit of the Savior, I was filled,
at an old fashion meeting, my memory lingers still,
in that little old wooden church, way out on the hill.

You could hear the people singing, about a half a mile away,
and your heart begin to get a sudden thrill,
it would start your body moving, till you couldn’t keep it still,
in that little old wooden church out on the hill.

Every Sunday morning, we had a family prayer,
then into that country wagon we would fill,
then we’d start out on our journey, over rocks and over reels
to that little old wooden church on the hill.

Many folk have passed us, and many folk have gone,
but the sweet old golden memory lingers still,
I’m gonna keep that Holy Spirit, til death my body chills.
I got in that wooden church, out on that hill.

Then, when that old fashioned preacher gave out a metered hymn,
the crowd with the Holy Ghost was filled,
people would be shouting, thank God, I can hear them still,
in that little old wooden church way out on the hill.

Now, I worship at a church which gives you the option of worshipping at a time for your convenience or pleasure; 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. Pick your hour but come just as you are!!!! (See blog 27)

The church’s demographic make-up is interesting. The membership is approximately 7500 of which 62% are females; 38% males; 60% adults; 8% children; 23% senior citizens and 8% unidentified.

While the seating capacity of the sanctuary is at 3000, a review of the three services shows the following commonalities, similarities and differences. 

All three services have the following in common:
A preacher
A choir
Full range of officers in service. (Deacons and Trustees)
Full core of ushers
Full core of medical staff
Nursery in operation
All services begin in the a.m.
Security available
Parking attendant
Prayer room for special needs

Distinction of the 7:30 service

Smallest in attendance
Least number of children in attendance
Worshippers have the rest of the day for desired needs

Distinction of the 9:30 service

Largest in attendance
More children and youth attend
Largest offering received
Half way point between 1st service and 3rd service
Church school simultaneously held

Distinction of the 11:30 service

Second in size attendance; more than the 7:30 service but less than the 9:30 service
Attendance caters to older church population
Hour for baptism and right-hand of fellowship

See you at church Sunday; but, at what time? Dr. Mays’ 11 a.m. hour is obsolete. What about the 9:30 a.m. service? We will be out by 11 a.m. This will give us plenty time to see the giants defeat the patriots. What about it?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blog 97: Excerpts from My Autobiography

By Donald W. Jones
(Also, see Blog 73)

     I was born the middle child of three children in the mid ’40s to a farm family in rural central Virginia. My father was first a farmer, then a carpenter, then a demolition expert. He built our home from felling the trees to make the lumber, to hand planning the trim work for the doors and windows. 
     Our farm consisted of a farmhouse with four bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room. A barn, grain house, equipment shelter, chicken house and acreage for grain and vegetables rounded out the balance.
     Life on the farm was challenging, especially the daily chores that sustained the core family. We’ve often heard about hog killing time. The hog was an essential part of the equation. It supplied all the cuts of pork that were edible. The two things that were not used were the hair and the squeal. The hair was too rigid and the squeal was impossible to capture ( if you did, what would you do with it?). Other byproducts included lard for cooking, cracklin’ for cornpone, fried pork skins, and lye soap.
     My paternal grandmother raised a family of seven (7) children. I never knew my paternal grandfather who was murdered in 1929 while working on the railroad (not as a laborer). According to the 1920 census, he was mixed to the point of being questionable as to his ancestry. Upon being identified, thus to his demise, Jim Crow showed its head.

Alice V. Jones, 1871-1958

     My paternal grandmother pictured above was part Native American. The dress and apron worn were made from flour sacks. Flour came in cloth sacks upwards of 50 lbs., normally in solid colors until necessity made them useful for their content. Then, the printed patterns became abundant. My grandma Alice wore these dresses daily.      I have fond memories of my grandmother. Standing next to her, I noticed that most times she would have her hand in her apron pocket. It wasn’t until I grew older and observed her working in the garden, that I noticed she was sporting (smoking) a corncob pipe. This was one of her private pleasures. 
     Our church, Union Baptist of Shores, Virginia, had Sunday services on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. Preachers were few and covered other churches on the 1st and 3rd Sunday at those locations. Sunday school was conducted all four Sundays. We lived about 1.25 miles from the church and walked there each Sunday. My grandmother would have on her church dress and newly polished laced-up shoes with her hat and veil. She always walked with a staff (not a cane) and we scurried either alongside or in front of her.
The road was the old gravel washboard type, rough and dusty. People would walk, or drive their horse and buggy, or mule and wagon. Those with cars would offer rides the last part of the way upon overtaking the walkers.
     Revival was the 4th Sunday in August. This was a full day of both morning and afternoon services with a lunch (more like a dinner) served between. All families would bring baskets of fried chicken, ham, potato salad, greens, rolls, iced tea, cakes and pies. Sometimes there would be watermelon. As kids, we knew who made the best of everything.
     Being part Indian, we knew that grandma’ would have some remedy for most colds, flu, cuts, bruises, bee stings and broken bones. The most memorable was her “mixture bag.” It contained a concoction of roots, herbs, grasses and who knew what else. It was placed on a string around your neck and had an odor onto itself. The one thing that it did was to keep everyone else out of your face. They couldn’t stand the smell. Maybe that was the intention. I also recall that for a sore throat she would make you swallow a partial teaspoon of Vicks salve. Ughhh.

Grandmother Alice Jones and grandson Donald Jones, c1954

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Blog 94: A Tribute to a Kind and Loving 5-Foot Giantess

By Attorney Deborah A. Nance (Guest Writer)

The Late Christine Long Nance

     The year was 1938.  The event was the birth of a baby girl to a homemaker and a brick mason apprentice. The wonderful thing was that the baby grew up to be a 5-foot-tall giantess.  The baby’s name was Christine Long Nance.
     Most would define a giantess as a woman who is super-sized in height. So, how can a 5-foot-tall woman be a giantess? Well, Christine Long Nance was a giantess in ways too numerous to relay here.  But indulge me a bit and I will give you several examples.
     First, Ms. Nance was a woman with a giant faith in the power of God.  Early in her life, she united in Christian fellowship with Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church. She shared her faith with many whom she met during her earthly life journey, including her daughter, the author of this story. 
     The elder Nance lived her faith in a giant way.  She housed, fed, clothed and/or provided financial gifts to numerous family members.  She offered words of encouragement to family members, neighbors, friends, her church family and strangers alike.  For many years following her retirement 20 years ago, she volunteered at Crisis Assistance Ministry, a non-profit ministry serving persons facing housing evictions, power turn-offs and other financial woes.
     Second, Ms. Nance was a giant believer in the power of education.  She commenced her formal studies at Biddleville Graded School where she was an honor student.  She continued to excel in her studies, including advanced math and science courses, at West Charlotte Senior High School.  Graduating near the top of her senior high school class in 1955, the giantess aced the national college preparatory test and furthered her studies at Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing.
     In 1958, she embarked upon a nursing career spanning over three decades in which she served in many capacities, including staff nurse and charge nurse, at hospitals in Charlotte, Huntersville and Greensboro, North Carolina and in New York City.  She obtained Registered Nurse licenses in two states, North Carolina and New York.  A lifelong learner and avid reader, the giantess amassed a giant vocabulary, was well-versed regarding many subjects and enjoyed solving cryptogram and crossword puzzles.
     Third, Ms. Nance was a giant of a parent who provided the author of this story with unconditional love and tremendous joy.  The giantess taught the author racial pride by gifting her with books depicting African American history and with dolls of color. The giantess did this even when such dolls cost more than “white” dolls and when such books cost more than books depicting non-African American subjects. As a child, this author happily trailed behind the giantess to public libraries and museums where the giantess reminded this author to always use a “quiet voice.”
     Despite her best efforts, the author was never able to emerge victorious when she and giantess played many word games, such as Scrabble, and other games, such as Checkers.  This was true, even after this author obtained two post-high school degrees. Although cooking was not one of the giantess’ passions, the giantess prepared delicious meals in which she had invested a lot of love, soul and energy.
     The giantess stood so tall in this author’s eyes, that the author did not realize until the giantess’ health began to decline that the giantess was actually very short in physical stature.   In November 2011, the giantess departed this earthly life.  However, the giantess left a giant legacy of love, faith and life lessons to the author.  The author of this story thanks God daily for blessing her with such a giant of a parent.
     In addition, the author prays that you have been blessed with giants or giantesses in your life, including the greatest of them all, God.  And if you have not done so, let the giants or giantesses in your life know how much you love and appreciate them. 
     The year is 2012.  Have you been a giantess or giant in someone's life? Well, my time is up.  Thanks for indulging me.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blog 93: Lord, Teach us to Reflect, Meditate and Pray

By Vernon M. Herron

     “The Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum provides an opportunity for all in attendance to learn information of importance to the African American community in particular and the rest of Charlotte in general.” The Forum generally opens with a call to reflect, meditate or to pray. A response to the call is usually given by one of our own, Steve Johnston, Joel Ford, Gyasi Foluke or Vernon Herron.

     Steve Johnston usually offers the Four-Fold Franciscan Blessing:


May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts. Amen.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom and peace. Amen.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. Amen.

May God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.

Gyasi Foluke usually offers a Kushite meditation:


I see good in you;
I see God in you.
For you are a part of me
And I am a part of you.
It matters little what religion or creed you profess;
But it matters much what spirituality or deed you manifest
Therefore , let us see good or God within each  other.
For as we think, so we are and as we believe we can achieve;
For I am a part of you and you are a part of me;
What affects you directly
Affects me indirectly,
If I help you, I help myself;
If I harm you, I harm myself;
For I am a part of you and you are a part of me.

Joel Ford’s leadership is in an affirmation form:

     This is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.  God's mercy and grace are new every morning in my life.
     I rejoice because I am God's child.  I have been filled with His Spirit. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. The Holy Spirit is bigger than any problem, obstacle, or challenge.  The Holy Spirit will give me wisdom and discernment regarding every decision I need to make today. 
     When I acknowledge God through prayer and worship, my steps are ordered and directed of Him. The Lord gives me wisdom and insight concerning  all the affairs of my life. 
     I choose to be a blessing to all those around me.
No matter what happens today, I know God will see me through.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and If God is for me then no one can be against me.
     I choose to honor God today by the words I speak; I will honor God by the way I act.  I will honor God by allowing His love, light and truth to shine through me.
     I am the head and not the tail; I am above and not beneath. I am blessed coming in and blessed going out.  I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Christ Jesus.  He always causes me to triumph.  No weapon formed against me shall prosper.  I am strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Today is going to be a great day!
Vernon Herron Tells a Bird Story to 
Challenge Wondering Minds:  
The Bird Story

     A lad tried to outwit a wise leader. So one    day the lad said to the sage, “I have a bird in my hands, is it dead or alive?” If the leader would say, “It is alive,” then the lad would crush the bird to death. While opening his hands, he would say, “See, it is dead!”
     If the leader would say, “It is dead!,” then the lad would open his hands and the bird would fly away, while saying, “See, the bird is alive.”
     So testing day came. The lad said to the wise leader, “I have a bird in my hands, is it dead or alive?” 

     The wise leader looked pointed at the lad and said, “The bird is in your hands, my boy, DO AS YOU WILL.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blog 92: In Memory of Tricky and Kate

By Constance Thornton (Guest Writer)

     As I read the blog discussing the humorous antics of Tricky the dog and Kate the cat, I smiled, as it brought back memories of other pets that I have known. 
     I have seen children and older folk alike interact with pets. Pets become companions, even friends to their owners.  
     I remember coming home from work one evening years ago to find my two youngest sons sitting on the front porch waiting for me to arrive. Sitting there between them was their dog, Butch.  The three of them had lollipops in their mouths.  We all went inside. As I was preparing dinner, I peeped into their room and observed "the Three Musketeers" watching Batman on the TV, Butch seemingly as involved in the show as the boys were.
     I have read stories and seen the abilities of pets to be anything to you that you need them to be.  They are companions for people who need company, protection for those in need of protection. I have often said that the only difference is that pets cannot talk.  They understand quite well.  They have emotions that they sometimes show even more than humans.  They are able to sense danger and are cautious when approaching people until they are sure that it's okay.
     My daughter had a two-month-old Lab which she adopted from a local shelter and she named him Ace. He was very playful and chubby. He ran a lot and looked like a fluffy orange ball.  
     The first time I met him, he was so busy running into the house, I guess he forgot to use the bathroom outside. He ran inside and tinkled under the dining room table.  He visited quite often and I grew to love him anyway.  I used to speak to him in "baby-talk", which he loved.  He would come running at the sound of my voice.   He had been so impulsive.  
     He had a female dog friend next door  named Rose.  She had a habit of running away from home and Ace left home with her.  However, Ace was back before sundown without Rose.  On one warm day, the children at Rose's house were cooling off in the pool when Ace, with my daughter in tow, ran through the fence and jumped in the pool!  
     He ignored my daughter's pleas for him to come back.  He had a way of ignoring you when there was something that he really wanted to do.
     Unfortunately, my daughter had to return the Lab to the shelter because they did not have the yard space that he required. After they returned home, I started watching the government channel that features the adoptable pets on TV.  Confused, I called the shelter and inquired as to why I had not seen Ace.
     After a few questions, I was informed that Ace had been put to sleep.  To my own surprise, I started screaming and crying.  My two grandchildren tried to keep me from seeing them laugh, they ran into the other room.  They talked and laughed about this for months to come.
     A friend once told me a story about her family's dog named "Fluffy".  Her story, I have to admit, I initially took with a grain of salt.  She crossed her heart that it was the truth. 
     She said her mother fried chicken every Sunday for dinner after church. She would place it in the oven until they returned to eat dinner. For about four times, they noticed exactly two pieces of chicken missing from the pan. They suspected the dog since no one else was home. On the other hand, they told themselves, "no, it couldn't be". The fifth Sunday someone stayed home and caught Fluffy red-handed – or “red-pawed,” I should say.
     Because I know of relationships with pets, I think it’s cute when I see people shopping for pet clothes that include coats, sweaters, shoes, hats etc. I smiled when I read my brother's obituary two years ago and at the very end was acknowledgement of his cat that he had for years. He was listed as one left to mourn my brother's passing. His name was Cat Banks, who  passed two months later; we feel from a broken heart.
     Thank God for pets, they mean so much to so many.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Blog 91: I See a Pattern

By Vernon M. Herron

     Recently, I read an interesting account of the Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor, 93, now in retirement, who once was the pastor of the historic Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, NY. He was a close advisor to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton;  received more than a dozen degrees; and was named by Baylor University as among the dozen most effective preachers in the English-speaking world.

     Behind this public figure, many younger ministers sought this pastor as a mentor, teacher and inspirational leader for shared experiences, coaching and insight. The young would engage the elder in a round of golf, drive the same to a regular Ministers Conference meeting or engage in a serious “bull” discussion.

     The elder Dr. Taylor is now in a convalescence center, but younger men still seek “to milk” this sage of his wisdom on preaching, pastoring, politics, writing, publishing and on life’s experiences for continued existence.

     I see a pattern of keen-minded young men who seek the benefits of life’s experiences from older men. Let me cite an example. After I turned 80, a young man offered to teach me how to “blog,” including correcting whatever mistakes were made or technical problems ensued. Once his teaching was done, the remaining time was spent in sharing, discussion, and picking my brains, regarding the secrets of life. Apparently, he learned much but one thing is sure, I gained new ideas for blog writing.

     There are others who keep in touch with me even unto this day, seeking wisdom, advice and offering opinions and gratitude for mine. Following the pattern of Dr. Taylor, who was the father of a girl, I too could say to a neophyte, “you gave me the son I never had.”

Friday, February 3, 2012

Blog 90: Five Minutes Before Midnight: Doom Day or What?

By Vernon M. Herron
     The world could be shaking in its boots, if it realizes that the symbolic doom day clock shows only five minutes remaining before midnight, signaling how close we may be to a global catastrophe. 
     Recently, Atomic Scientists issued a Bulletin informing the public about pending threats from nuclear weapons, climate change and enlarging technologies. The Bulletin was established the year I finished high school, 1947, by scientists and engineers who worked on the Manhattan Project, which created the atomic bomb. It has taken 64 years for the clock’s hand to move forward 55 minutes.
     It is noted that “the world still has about 19,500 deployed nuclear power to destroy the world’s inhabitants several times over.”  Countries that possess nuclear arms include USA, China, France, India, Pakistan, South Africa, United Kingdom and others.

     Research shows that climate change is a factor to be handled responsibly. One major environmental concern is that human activity may be changing the global climate. Research also shows that the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – to power motor vehicles, heat buildings, generate electric energy, and perform various industrial tasks, is increasing the amount of carbon dioxide, gas carbon and burning them produces carbon dioxide. This gas slows the escape of heat released by the earth into space. Thus, an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide may cause global warming– a rise in the temperature of the air next to the earth’s surface.

     Global warming could change rainfall patterns, leading to shifts in plant and animal populations. It could also melt enough polar ice to raise the sea level and it could increase the frequency and severity of tropical storms.
      Five minutes before midnight stresses the approaching danger of annihilation, if there is no control on the maintenance of the nuclear race. One theory contends that inaction on key issues, including climate change and rising international tensions, motivates the movement of the clock.

     Most experts believe that since the end of World War II, the threat of Nuclear War probably has helped keep the peace between the world’s major nations. However, all experts agree that extensive use of large nuclear weapons would cause heavy damage to many nations. Nations have long sought ways to control nuclear weapons and reduce the risk of nuclear war.
     Thank God for Al Gore who says, “Unless global leaders throw their weight behind alternatives to carbon-emitting energy and technologies over the next five years, the world is doomed to a warmer climate, harsher weather, drought, famine, water scarcity, rising sea levels, loss of island nations and increasing ocean acidification.” 
     At that point, the “on the hour” tone will strike! After the last five minutes before midnight are consumed, which shall it be, doom day or what?