We're a Hugging Church

We're a Hugging Church or

John Gets hit on!


I recently saw an update on FaceBook by a friend who is pastor of a local church and it reminded me of the first time I ever saw him. His FB post was about a Father's Day gift he received. It was a gun that shoots salt grains and is designed to take out wasps and flys. This is pretty typical of the Brad Sutton I know. A basically serious Christian man with a mischievous little boy inside. It's probably why I like him so much.

To go back in time, I was a member of the Highland Village First Baptist Church which has currently morphed into The Village, but at the time was small with around 125 members. Our building was also quite small and we had remodeled it somewhat to modernize its appearance and appeal. This had resulted in the necessity to go to two services, each drawing about 80-90. We had a choir in those days, but had lost our music minister due to circumstances I won't go into at this time, if ever. The choir was still able to provide specials okay and continued singing during the second service, but that left a void in the first service.

Our pastor, Ken Dalton's wife, Vanessa, was a very talented singer and she and Ken decided that we could use a praise team for both services and have the choir provide backup in the second service as well as doing a special. So it was, that I received a call asking if I would be willing to be the male singer in a three person praise team. Vanessa Dalton, Jennifer Morris and I then began a journey of providing the leadership for music for the next year or so.

To show how far we've come, at that time, we didn't have a video projector or teleprompter, bur rather depended on cue cards that Vanessa would print up the night before. Of course, as we learned more and more praise songs, the cue cards eventually became superfluous.

After about a year, with the church on more sound financial ground (but still without much excess), it was decided that we needed to find a music minister who would add a more professional touch. Looking back, I'm not sure if the three of us should have been offended or not, but in any case, I was asked to serve on the search committee due to my "expertise" in music. Probably a gesture to assuage my feelings!!

By now, you are wondering what this narrative has to do with my first meeting of Brad or the title of the piece. One of the gifts of the Spirit is Patience, and you're just going to have to claim that one because I usually get to the point in my own time.

One Sunday morning we went to a church in Oak Cliff with a small congregation to observe the music minister, Brad Sutton, there. He had been described to us as young and energetic and looking to expand from a role of providing Hymn leadership to using praise songs to augment the worship experience. This was what we were looking for, but we couldn't afford a well established Worship Minister and needed to find someone hungry enough to take on the challenge and grow the role to the point where we could provide a commensurate salary. Frankly looking back we probably couldn't even afford Brad at the time.

The group, composed of about 5-6 of us, arrived fairly early in several vehicles and we had decided to come that way so we could split up and sit in random spots in the audience in a attempt to disguise that we were in fact a search team. {This actually became difficult since the congregation didn't fill a lot of the church and we did stick out as at least a sizable number of visitors!} I found myself near the center of the church surrounded by a group of elderly people, mostly women.

After the first song, there was a greeting time for the members and I found myself besieged by the women around me. Especially one lady, who began her introduction with; "Well, it's nice to have you with us today, I need to point out that we are a hugging church". After the obligatory hugs with four or five women, she then began to inform me that she and many of the sisters around me were widows and that at times the church was also a "kissing (of fellowship, of course) church" as well. I managed to extract myself, by telling them all that my wife was under the weather that morning and had been unable to attend with me. I had  never been "hit on" (except by Geri one moonlit night on a moonlight walk at a youth camp)  before and still find it amusing that it occurred in church.

I know you're curious, so yes we hired Brad (he must have been hungry enough!!) and he was most of what we needed (I'd say all, but he may read this and I can't allow his ego too much inflation). We also got Gretchen, his wife, and I'm not sure which was the greatest bargain, but they did make a great team.

The people we reached at HVFBC (aka The Village) expanded greatly and the worship experience was enhanced with dramas, dinner theaters and a cadre of musicians unparalleled in our experience.

I wonder what ever happened to those widows, I hope they found someone....

Davdan @ 2008-2018