The Church’s One Foundation

The first church I served as pastor was Mt. Pisgah Baptist just outside of Mt. Hermon. To get there you had to turn off the asphalt road onto a gravel road off of which you turned onto a dirt road. There it set as it had for years. It was for me the “Institute of Pastoral Care,” in that there was a deacon there who taught me more than some seminary professors. I loved the 35 people we had in attendance most Sundays.

The first problem I precipitated was to put screens in the windows to keep out the mosquitos. What I did was irrepressible. There were deacons who always sat by windows so they could spit their tobacco out during the services. I almost drowned one before they took out the screens.

My new bride was right off sorority row at LSU. She had never been to a funeral. The first week there were five. Welcome to the role of a pastor’s wife.

Small as the church was, it was large enough to be built around two family lines that were rivals in all things. After church on Sunday the conversation turned to fishing. Two rivers flowed through the larger community. The two sides challenged each other as to which could catch the most catfish while fishing on the two rivers. I don’t remember how my lot fell to become a member of one team.

The result of the first night of fishing resulted in them calling us to come over and see their 22 pound catfish, making them the clear leader.

The next night we caught one that weighed 20 pounds. I looked at the fish hanging there on the cotton scales with their mouths wide open. I noticed nearby some elongated counter weights used in old windows. I picked up one and dropped it down the fish’s gullet. The scale responded, and with the addition of others registered 24 pounds. We called them to come see our winner. Things went well until we took him off the scale and laid him down. When we did fish clanked – – – gotcha. They insisted we dress the fish immediately and when we did our nefarious act was revealed.

My education in fishing wasn’t over. Later I accepted an invitation to go fishing with one of them. I noticed he put a sack in the boat with something in it.

When we got to the right place he pulled out an old phone not to talk on, but to be used for fishing. I had no idea what he was about to do, but he threw two lines in the water and began cranking the phone. This sent an electric shock in the water which stunned fish and brought them to the top. He netted a number. I could just see a game warden behind every tree. There were none and we avoided arrest.

Dude Miller, a local dairy farmer, led the singing. Right behind the pulpit were two classrooms and restrooms. One Sunday while I made the announcements Dude felt an undeniable urge to visit the restroom. While I, with dignity, made the announcements there was a thunderous roar as he flushed. When he came back one half of his coat in the back was tucked in his pants. No doubt what that was about. 

Only because Jesus said, “I will build my church” has Mt. Pisgah survived. That is true of all churches. I am thankful that the church taught me many lessons that influenced my 50-plus years as a pastor.

The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, our Lord. Sing it, Dude.