Iris Long may have been the only person in the Valley who wasn’t surprised by the strange series of events taking place among the various congregations on Bearden’s Corner that fateful Sunday in late October. She had a hint something was up on Saturday as she caught a glimpse of Raymond Cooper and his minions making plans in the lobby of Talk Radio 880.
What their plans were, she couldn’t be sure. But as she overheard Marvin tell Raymond he would see him in church, she had a feeling they were up to no good.
The next morning, as she sat in the back row during the 8:30 a.m. contemporary service at Lennox Valley Lutheran Church, she was unaware Lutherans weren’t the only Christians who were in for a surprise that fateful morning. As Iris turned to see what kind of commotion was taking place at the back door, she heard the keyboard playing, "Mighty is Our God," as the 14 congregants stood and raised their arms in the air.
That’s just the kind of thing which would take place in the 8:30 service, but would never transpire two hours later in the traditional worship upstairs. Iris couldn’t make out what was being said from behind her as the song leader, Miranda Tessendorf, led the group, repeating the chorus several times.
"Good Lord," Iris murmured to herself. "Do they think God didn’t hear them the first 10 times they sang it?"
Over at Lennox Valley Methodist Church, everything seemed to be going swimmingly as folks gathered to prepare coffee and make necessary arrangements for Sunday school, which took place each week before the worship service.
The Catholics and Lutherans never quite understood the affinity Methodists and Baptists had for Sunday school. To the fine folks at All Saints Catholic Church, it was confusing to try to understand why someone would want to attend church twice on the same morning.
The Lutherans had classes for children, along with a Bible study group attended by six or eight adults each week while their offspring were in class, but the whole idea of splitting up into different groups to listen to amateurs teach the Bible just didn’t make sense. It was rumored the Baptist church had classes for younger adults, older adults, college students, and even singles.
As James Bretcher once told his fellow Lutherans, "It’s beyond me why single folks need a different lesson than married folks. Why not just call it what it is, the church dating service? Lord only knows what they talk about in that class."
As the pianist at the Methodist church practiced playing the morning anthem, "A Charge to Keep I Have," the officers of the Methodist Women’s group were busy setting up a table in the narthex for the annual LVMW (Lennox Valley Methodist Women) Cookbook sale.
Trying to keep up with the names for rooms in different churches could get pretty confusing. While the Methodists called the area leading into the sanctuary the "narthex," over at First Baptist it was called the "vestibule," a word that always gave me the shivers.
The Methodist Women officers were especially excited about this particular cookbook because they had a "celebrity" chef submit six recipes for the book. Valerie Pinkin, wife of Channel 6 meteorologist Matt Pinkin, graced the cover, holding her renowned Battenberg cake.
Carol Weems, president of the Methodist Women, had written Mrs. Pinkin to invite her to attend church on "Cookbook Kickoff Sunday," but Carol hadn’t received a response. Still, the officers of the group expected a healthy bump in attendance, as folks would surely show up, just in case. We didn’t get many ce-lebrities in the Valley.
Over at First Baptist Church, more than 100 folks joined in singing "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder," as the service began in earnest. One visitor, how-ever, stood quietly, unfamiliar with the song.
Back at the Lutheran church, as Iris Long strained to hear what Marvin Walsh was saying to an unknown listener just outside the door at Lennox Valley Lu-theran Church and Carol Weems gleamed in anticipation of another successful Cookbook Sunday, Juliette Stoughton gathered courage for what was about to take place at First Baptist Church.