The New Center Southern Missionary Baptist Church

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Remembering the church I attended in my youth.

The New Center Southern Missionary Baptist Church

 

© 2021 by Jim Shipp

 

After living in a handful of rented homes in Hartselle, Alabama, my parents finally bought their first owned property in 1953 – a sixty-acre farm in that city’s New Center farming community.

On the loop where Church Road made a sharp left turn to connect with New Center Road a quarter of a mile away, we owned the land to the south, the Hopper’s property lay to the north and east, and the Roan farm sat to the west.

In its third incarnation, the New Center Southern Missionary Baptist Church was a white clapboard structure built by Senator John Sparkman’s father, Whitt, in 1915. It was located very close to Church Road and its doors were never locked, which was a boon to local children waiting for the Priceville school bus in inclement weather. It housed an old piano that could be accessed for idle tinkling. Its outdoor restrooms were situated in a copse of pine trees to the left of the church. What was then a small cemetery lay to the right, past a cluster of large hardwoods.

The three Shipp brothers dutifully trooped up to the church for Sunday school each weekend and stayed over for the ensuing sermon. Choir leader Will Hopper frequently complimented us for our exuberant contribution to the hymns. Wednesday night prayer meetings were optional.

A special aspect of the church’s activities consisted of its annual vacation bible schools, during which we children were walked through all the ancient biblical stories and parables, usually with brightly colored teaching aids. The outdoor lunches were also special. We were asked to randomly exchange lunch sacks with the other kids, ostensibly so we could learn how our neighbors were getting along. The fare ranged from Spam to potted meat to bologna and from bananas to sliced pineapple to various preserves. These items were served on white bread, cornbread, or biscuits, and were accessorized by mayonnaise, peanut butter, butter, or honey, as applicable. Cheese – usually the free government variety – was sometimes present.

Nowadays, when the world bears down on me, I dream about sitting under a big oak tree at the New Center church and eating a simple sandwich from a brown paper bag.


Submitted: January 19, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Jim Shipp. All rights reserved.

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Serge Wlodarski

I grew up in north Alabama in the 60s and 70s. Best cornbread and biscuits on the planet but I'll pass on the Spam.

Wed, January 20th, 2021 2:07pm

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