My parents met when my mother, a nursing student, was caring for my dad’s mom in a hospital. He told his mom that “that girl is the one I’m going to marry”. They started dating, and in 1949, when they were both 21, my mom dropped out of nursing school and they were married.
They went on to have four children, all of us named with the letter “S”. Sandy, Susan, Sheila (me), and Stacey. And so we were a family. We ended up settling down in a rented house in the town of Pleasantville, NJ. My dad bought our first home in 1959,in Northfield, NJ, when Stacey was a newborn and I was four. That would be our home for nearly 20 years.
My first memory of religious indoctrination is my Sunday school class at a Baptist church in Pleasantville. My mom’s parents lived in Pleasantville, which was close to our new house, so we drove to Pleasantville on Sundays for church. After church, we often visited with my grandparents.
[My dad’s parents lived in Pennsylvania, and we didn’t see them often. Usually there was an annual summer family barbecue at my dad’s parents’ home in PA, with all of his siblings & their kids, and that is how I came to know my aunts, uncles, and cousins.]
When I was in second grade, my dad announced that we were leaving the Baptist church and joining a fairly new church, a non-denominational church, in Linwood; this church was really close, just up the road from Northfield. The church is Linwood Community Church, and it still exists to this day.
I was upset. I loved my current Sunday school teacher and my friends, and could not understand how my dad could just up and move like that. I remember clearly that my parents had recently quit smoking because they believed it “hurt their testimony”. My dad was upset that the church we were in allowed smokers to be leaders in the church. I came to know later that my dad was very active in our Baptist church, had raised a stink about the whole smoking issue, was shot down, and felt he had no choice but to find a new church.
So, in the second grade I learned that Christians shouldn’t smoke. I didn’t know why, but my dad said so, and that was it. Frankly, I was disappointed when they quit. My parents used to let us take turns blowing out the match when either one of them lit up. Funny to think about that now.
Linwood Community Church was non-denominational, but its theology was close to Baptist theology. It was also hard-core Fundamentalist. If you’ve read all this without being bored, I thank you. The next post will be about church and family life after we began attending LCC.