Sunday, November 3, 2013

Beginning at Painter Creek Church

Often I tell people about life on the farm and living constantly with the many jobs of the farmer. We didn't leave our place of employment. No, we lived our employment. But we had a second residence. A place where we spent many hours a week. As a kid my comfort level there was no different than at home. The place was Painter Creek Church of the Brethren.

I sat thinking of the church and its influence on the lives of those back the lane on Neff Road. Dad and Mom sang in the choir. Every Wednesday night they took off for practice. They went so many years that Mom often directed the choir. I sat in the pews on Sunday and listened to my parents, Uncle Keith and Grandad Loxley singing praises to God. It wasn't unusual for one of our family to sing a solo or play the piano in accompaniment. Music echoed in our faith and in the background of our daily lives.

Every Sunday we entered the church and found the same people in the same pews. Jess and Rosie Riffell sat in the front right pew. The older generations sat in the back right side. The noisy kids sat with parents on the left. Friends and neighbors we had known all of our lives surrounded us, caring for us even as we grew to adults. The church was the hub of the community. I loved to meet up with my best friends Doris Royer, Vivian Force, Mary Kay Snider, Brenda Stager and Priscilla Wyan. I always begged to bring one of them home to play after church.

My parents were youth leaders and Sunday School teachers. In later years they took on the job of custodians. It wasn't that we were immersed in faith. Mom and Dad lived their faith without wearing it as a banner. They practiced in life the goodness of a Christian faith. I think that was where I learned that the world is my church. Giving, loving, caring were the practices in and outside of our home.

When I had just moved to Oregon, I discovered that my husband was unfaithful. My life was in shambles. I had two small children and no idea what to do. I came home to the farm to hide from life for a month. My parents took over the loving care of my children while I calmed my heart and began to look forward. It was a hard journey. After about three weeks, I wandered to Mom's bookshelf. I found a book about silent faith. Suddenly my life became clear. I knew that I was in good Hands. A faith that I learned as a child growing up in Painter Creek Church was part me. My church based on peace and love gave me a way to understand my faith.

This isn't meant to be a preachy piece. The little church where I grew up cradled me in faith. Those same people are as dear to me now as they were then. My heart sings when I see them on return trips. They were all part of my growing up and part of my family. I know my story is shared by others who grew up in country churches. We all shared the story of the land and God who created it. My heart will always with the little church called Painter Creek.

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