Northside Baptist ChurchOn this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for the people at Northside Baptist Church in Woodruff, South Carolina. My earliest memories are of the church and the wonderful people and pastors who nurtured me there. My first real work experience was helping/hindering Mr. Stacey Hughes as he carried out his custodial duties. I lined up the chairs and stacked the books in the large downstairs social hall. I mostly remember creating a make believe train out of the chairs. I really wanted to stoke the big furnace, but Mr. Hughes would not allow me anywhere close to it. Our next door neighbor, Mr. Andy McGill, was Sunday school superintendant. Mrs. Elma, his wife, was leader of the RAs and taught the ladies’ Sunday school class. The Rev. Roy Gowan was our minister and friend. I owe more to him than I could ever repay.\

I was introduced to public speaking in the now defunct Baptist Training Union. These wonderful people encouraged me and every other young person in every way possible. We had a Christmas tree in the sanctuary. Santa Claus came and everyone got a present. No one confused Jesus and Santa. Elizabeth McGill played the electric organ and I loved the bells. The congregation enjoyed singing the old hymns and I  still remember most of them. We had Vacation Bible School and church picnics. Rev. Guy Stoner came as pastor and he had a pony for his young girls. My sister and I kept the pony when they went to Canada on vacations. Rev. J.L. McCluney came later as our pastor and he was a giant of a man and a heart as big as his body. He visited me at Mars Hill College.

There is much more that I need to write about this wonderful church. I received such a strong foundation there that has allowed me to¬†continue to grow and develop my ever expanding personal theology. I still get goose bumps when I hear, “Just As I am.” It is as true for me today as it was in that childhood church so many years ago. On this Thankful Thursday I am grateful for the wonderful people who were the church when I was growing up.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the contributions of someone to our lives and to let her or him know of our gratitude. Develop and attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.