Ed and the Hippie

Ed and the Hippie

Geri and I have been members of numerous churches and denominations. Our measuring stick has never been tied to one tradition or another, but rather to the guidance of the Holy Spirit ( even when we didn't know He was leading !).  So it was that even though we had grown up in an American Baptist Church ( read: Northern Baptist for my Southern Baptist brethren ); we found ourselves as members of an United Methodist Church. There was a Conservative Baptist Church in town, but at the time, the preacher was one who expected obedience to himself. On top of that, the denomination was segregational in nature and many members were outright bigots.

The Methodist church on the other hand, tended to be more Spirit-led and tried to use Jesus as its model. This was in the mid 1960's so a more liberal viewpoint about racial matters was critical to a true Christian church and the Methodist church, though not perfect, exhibited a more loving attitude toward all people. 

It's important to note that in those days, men wore suits and ties to worship and women wore dresses ( and occasionally one of the new-fangled pants-suits ). Our church prided itself on accepting folks however they came and since the highway to the shore resorts passed right outside our front door, we often got visitors dressed for the beach. Though this would of course, be noted, we did all we could to make them welcome. 

Around 1969, the district sent Charles "Chuck" Williams to us as pastor. He was quite charismatic and he challenged us to be even better in our walk with The Lord. He was among a group of Methodist ministers known as Holy Spirit (or Grassroots) Methodists. The congregation did become excited and enthused by his preaching and his personal walk. 

One Sunday, a flower child came to service. He was dressed in tie-died tee shirt, jeans ragged at the ends, a vest, sunglasses, an Afro (he was a white guy), full beard and beads. The very caricature of a hippie of which we had few in the area. The people of the church greeted him, made him feel welcome, offered coffee, etc. All the things good Christian folk are supposed to do. 

Soon, Chuck began his sermon for the morning. He read a passage from I John about love and began to expound on the nature of love. At this point, the hippie stood up and asked from the audience, "what do YOU know about love?" This started a dialog between the two on whether or not the church really knew about love. 

I was a member of the choir and after we sang our number, we moved together into the first couple of rows and sat together, so I was seated that morning next to Ed, one of our basses. And being the only tenor that morning, I was on the outside of the row with Ed next inside. I need to tell you a bit about Ed. He and his first wife, Juanita ( she later developed cancer and passed away and Ed subsequently married a widow from the church whom we all loved as well ) were two of the sweetest people I've ever met. He had a small farm near town which I think one of his sons actually farmed at the time I knew him. He also hosted barn dances occasionally as well. He was a kind, gentle man who really did love The Lord and wished to serve Him faithfully. 

But, after listening to this hippie, expound on love for several minutes, Ed turned to me and said; "Let's go and throw the bum out!"  I started to chuckle since obviously, Ed didn't see the irony in his statement. Then I whispered to him "Let's hear him out". About this time, the "hippie" began reading his part from the script he had pulled out. This had been a setup! The hippie was actually a seminary student in one of the classes Chuck was taking and they were actually doing a class assignment. Glad we didn't throw him out!!

I still get a chuckle today from people whose faith is often filled with the irony of knowing what is right, but reacting wrongly when pushed  out of their comfort zone.  

Davdan @ 2008-2018