The six of us, my parents and us four children, put down our roots pretty quickly. We were actively involved in our church, which included Sunday school & other church services. In the summer, we had Vacation Bible School and Good News Evangelism outdoor activities. Our church was very motivated to get the children indoctrinated.
The church leaders instituted a Summer Camp program. Children got points for attending Sunday school classes, for remembering to bring their Bibles, and LOTS of points for memorizing Bible verses. We got rewards for knowing the books of the Protestant Bible, in correct order. When we accumulated enough points, the church treated us to a week at a Christian camp. If someone almost made it, the church paid half.
Memorizing whole passages of the Bible, such as the 23rd Psalm, lent us prestige among our peers. We had Sword Drills, in which we could compete against each other in locating Bible verses quickly, honing our skills so that we could follow along in the Bible when the pastor preached, when we were old enough to attend regular “adult” services.
Music played a huge role in cementing doctrine. We had choruses with simple lyrics which reinforced our principles. Even the adults enjoyed singing these choruses with us in the evening services. Our hymnals were filled with songs written by Fannie Crosby & other well-known hymn authors. One Sunday evening a month, we would have what we called “hymn sings”, during which a congregant would shout out the name of a favorite hymn, and everyone would sing that one. We’d sing our hearts out for the hour long service. Local churches would host special hymn sings for the youth groups, and we met other peers who believed the way we did.
All of us four children dived into these services and activities with gusto. We had memorized great swaths of the Bible, knew the words to tons of Christian hymns and choruses, and were surrounded by carefully screened friends. We were the typical church family. This was my life from my birth (I was in the church nursery) all through my childhood, from the mid-fifties into the sixties. But changes were ahead.