Stock Car Sunday
Or How Hallelujah Jones Returned the Church of Christ to Its Roots
Copyright 2010 Roy Pace
In the beginning, the idea of a commemorative service honoring stock-car racing seemed to guarantee a big draw for Sunday morning church. The praise committee of the giant Macedonia Church of Christ approved the event when the elders realized that most of their membership of 7,000 souls had scattered to the winds—or at least to nearby churches—since the scandalous switch to what some called “praised-based” worship.
For those of you who don’t know about the Church of Christ, let me fill you in. As I used to say, “We in the Church of Christ were fundamentalists before being fundamentalists was cool.” I grew up being taught that dancing, card-playing, mixed swimming, shorts wearing, and curse-spewing people were going straight to hell. Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights were reserved for church, and church had rules. The preacher who built the Macedonia church to be the largest Church of Christ in the world repeatedly exhorted us that the church was to “speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.” This mostly meant that we didn’t have pianos or organs in the church services or at any other time. Music was to be by singing only ‘cause that’s what the Bible said. We took the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, breaking bread by pinching a bit off a little cracker in the plate passed down each row of pews and sipping the “fruit of the vine,” which was always Welch’s Grape Juice, from one of the little cups in the tray that came down the row. The typical service was made up of a couple of songs, a prayer--led by either an old man or some rosy-cheeked teenager who was just coming of age in the church--the Lord’s Supper, a spell of preaching, an invitation to come forward and confess your sins, and a song and prayer to close out the hour.