I've always seen ESGUMC as a pretty unique place. I've visited different churches over the years for revivals, youth services, etc. and there is no place quite like it. I was thinking today while I was cleaning about some of my best memories there over the years and thought I'd share.
--Growing up, we pretty frequently had potluck meals or finger foods outside on the church patio after Sunday night church. We called them "fellowships", so for years and years, I thought the word "fellowship" meant "finger foods on the patio."
--We've always had awesome praise and worship. My mom was part of the praise and worship team when I was little and I learned to harmonize by listening to her sing. We did some songs so frequently that we developed certain things to go with them like special claps or different movements. "Like David Did", "Celebrate, Jesus, Celebrate", "Ancient of Days", "The Battle Belongs to The Lord", "Romans 16:19 Says", and "Ain't No Rock" were some of my favorites. I liked the song "God's Got an Army", but every time we sang it, somebody (I'm not saying who!) started marching around the perimeter of the church, trying to pull everybody in to the line of marching people. I'm pretty sure that every time that happened, I scooted as far to the inside of the pew as I could!
--Children's church has always been a big thing at ESG. When I was growing up, my parents and some of their best friends were the main children's church leaders. We did all kinds of fun things. Every year, we had a jamboree at a farm right outside of our town. All the kids (and some of the parents) dressed up like cowboys/girls. There were horse rides, wagon rides, tons of games, all kinds of food, and finally, an extra special service at the end with songs, an object lesson, sometimes people dressed up as different characters, sometimes there was a puppet show, and skits. The third Sunday of each month was "store Sunday". Throughout the month, we earned play money for different things like good behavior, attendance, and memory verses and on "store Sunday" we got to watch shows like "Gospel Bill" and later "Veggie Tales", while everybody took turns going to the store (a room with little prizes laid out on tables) to spend their play money. Our regular children's church Sundays were just as fun. Norman (one of my favorite people in the whole world) and my dad taught the lessons together and that was never boring. Norman sometimes dressed up like a funny looking bald Professor and did hilarious, but very memorable object lessons. We learned things like the 10 commandments and the fruits of the spirit through some awesome praise and worship.
--At one point when I was little, my parents and quite a few other people would meet at the parsonage (which was 2 feet from the church) once a month to have "intercessory prayer". We kids would stay in the nursery at the church and several of the older kids would take care of the rest of us. I was just telling my parents the other day that I remember one time when the older kids decided to make us younger kids do a "challenge". They took different condiments from the church kitchen refrigerator, mixed them together, and told us to drink/eat them. Ha! I still remember mine being a mix of water, shredded cheese, and ketchup. Bleh!
--Judy, my first pastor's wife, made a roast for Sunday lunch I'm pretty sure every Sunday and we could always smell it (and wow, did it smell delicious!) when we walked by their door on the way back to our car after church.
--Every summer, until I was an early teenager, our church went to Six Flags over Georgia. On the way there, we stopped to swim at a state park and then had a Sloppy Joe/Moon Pie picnic (I'm sure there were other foods, but that's what I remember most). In the morning, before we left our hotel for Six Flags, we all had to circle up in the parking lot (and it was a huge circle), sing a praise song, and pray. We all had to stay together and ride "Monster Plantation" first and I would ride through with my hands over my eyes because I didn't want to see the monsters.
--I remember the night that Dave (our pastor) had a stroke that the doctors said should have killed him. We rushed to the hospital and I remember everyone in the waiting room praying. I remember lots of prayer. Friends of ours would come to the house when Callie or I were sick and anoint us and pray for us. Every Sunday night (and every week night during a revival), people would gather in the prayer room before the service and pray and sing.
--One time, my dad lost his job and I remember my parents, crying because members of the church had sent money in the mail to help with bills. That is the body of Christ. People brought meals when my mom had cancer and was taking chemo. When I had both of my boys, people brought us meals. All sorts of people immediately showed up at the hospital when Michael posted on Facebok that Kade was on his way into the world. lol When my grandparents passed away, people from our church family came, even though none of my grandparents went to our church.
--Uncle Charlie (he wasn't really my uncle) was a Vietnam missionary who used to visit our church when he was in town. He got really excited about the blood of Jesus so when we did songs like "Power in the Blood" or "Nothing But the Blood", he would whoop, holler, and wave a handkerchief around in the air. We kids would always try hard not to giggle. Uncle Charlie knew I liked to read and gave me lots of books--children's editions of some Dickens books, a biography of Susanna Wesley, I think Ben Carson, and tons of others I can't remember.
I have so many other memories (I haven't even hit my later years yet) but I'm going to have to take a break. If you've ever been a part of ESG, I'd love to hear some of your favorite times! I wish I had some good pictures at my house to go along with this post, but I'll have to get some from mom and dad's and scan them.