Today was the Centennial Celebration at church, which meant that after services everyone gathered in the Family Life Center for lunch catered by Dover's own Dewayne's Bar-B-Q and Grill. Dewayne's brought their famous bar-b-q sandwiches, hot dogs for the kids. The women of the church took care of the rest, the rest being about twenty variations of potato salad, at least fifteen of pasta salad, and two whole tables of deserts. To drink everyone had the choice of tea or sweet tea.
At the front of the room on the stage was a table set for the current and former pastors of our church. The tables set up on the basketball courts with purple napkins and silk spring flowers were filled with kids clamoring to get at the desert table and parents (me included) trying to get something healthy in them first. My progression was first cole slaw, then potato salad, potato chips, finally a hot dog which Story ate but only after removing it from the bun and slathering it in mustard (that's the Chicago in him), finally, exasperation setting in, desert, which he also dipped in mustard-and ate. There were a couple pairs of new grandparents who looked like they would never stop smiling walking around and showing a picture to anyone who hadn't seen. It's baby season here. The older members of the church smiled at the kids, who for the most part took no notice that they were being admired and went right on flying around the room, the older ones pleading with their parents to let them have a friend over to continue playing, the friend standing right behind them with their hands clasped bouncing up and down ever so slightly.
After eating they got the microphone out so that the pastors could say a few words, then the floor was opened up to their congregation. People went around and shared their memories about the church. One woman remembered how both her parents were baptized in the church. The pastors used to link arms with the husbands and together they would dunk the wives. People talked about the little white church that preceded the much larger church that is on the lot now. Mr. Sandy was running the microphone to different people as they raised their hands. "Anyone else?" he'd ask. "Anyone closer than Donald?" And everyone would laugh. Finally he started running out of people and Mrs. Pfeifer stood up. She's about as old as the hills, and much shorter so you couldn't see her right away when she stood. She's the archetype of the "church lady." She has been going to the church probably for as long as anyone can remember and she's always pulling you aside and making sure that you're doing okay, and that the kids are doing okay. Sometimes she has a fresh flower on her lapel. She's a joy. When Sandy got her the microphone she talked about what the church was like when she started attending. At one point her granddaughter came up to her and gave her a hug. Mrs. Pfeifer gave her a kiss and stood with her arm around her as she continued talking. Everyone was straining to hear what she had to say, but even so it was hard with the sugar setting in and all the kids getting antsy. When she passed the microphone off and sat down everyone continued to look at her for a fraction of a second, she's a good Christian woman.
Driving home with Story in tow I thought about the growth of a tiny country church, of all the elders who had watched it grow and all the children who will, hopefully, grow with it. I thought it was a nice day, and it is nice to be a part of something with history, something positive, something whose members have the capability of preparing that many variations of a dish that is basically potatoes, mayonnaise, and mustard. I must have eaten my weight in potato salad, which I don't really even like but curiosity got the better of me. When I got home Story and I took a nap. I'm proud to call myself a member of First Baptist, Dover.