My story began a really long time ago with 2 grandmothers influenced by Bro Witherspoon and Bro Fresh and a very young S G Norris and other early Oneness preachers. One grandmother was ‘shouting her hair down’ in a Methodist church prior to Oneness and the other came into Oneness with my great grandmother. No grandfathers in the picture –they all died really young.
My great grandmother died in the parking lot of a Oneness camp meeting; she had quit taking her heart medicine b/c this was a ‘healing’ camp meeting. My very young mother found her dead in the car. One of my grandmothers died in a car/train accident on her way to VBS –it was 2 blocks away and I remember all the kids (I was 10) going to the altar to pray. My grandma and my best friend (a cousin just a couple of weeks older than me) were 2 who died in the accident. I still mourn the loss after 50 years.
So I am 3rd or 4th generation Oneness before there even was an ALJC (Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ) or UPC (United Pentecostal Church) and of course my dad was a preacher, as were some of his brothers. By the time I got here, it was ALJC for us but we had friends in the PA of W (Pentecostal Assemblies of the World) and some UPC, though in my area the ALJC and UPC were pretty strong rivals. We were the less strict but still plenty weird.
At one time, the Rambos went to our church and Bucky was our children’s orchestra leader (I played the cymbals 🙂 ) I remember Dottie’s song ‘Come Spring’ was written for my grandmother or dedicated to her. Reba and I were fast friends. I remember Reba contracted meningitis and almost dying. They left around that time and became famous but of course were ‘lost’ 🙂 We absolutely loved Dottie’s singing –especially LAZARUS 🙂 . As a teenager, I sang a lot of her songs at district youth and fellowship meetings.
I grew up having a rare haircut, sometimes wearing pants and my mom even sold Avon at one time and put lipstick on both of us then- almost rubbed my lips raw getting it off before my dad came home LOL. I wore miniskirts as a teenager and had a page boy haircut and wore powder and mascara with no real consequences but I did not get ‘saved’ until I was 18 and in bible school (ABI- Apostolic Bible Institute).
I went to bible school b/c it was my mothers dream to go and she never had the chance (I just wanted to get away 🙂 .) On my application to bible school, I remember writing –“I am coming to find out if there is a god and if there is, I will serve him”. I am sure S G Norris (then a much older man) got a kick out of that.
I was miserable at bible school –still had a page boy haircut and wore ‘natural’ makeup but felt like I was the only sinner among a bunch of young saints (this is too funny now but then I took it very seriously). I cried nightly and begged a close by friend of the family to come and take me home.
Of course, he called my parents and they called my preacher uncles who call S G and without me knowing the whole bible school began around the clock prayer and fasting. S G called me into his office and told me his ‘story’ of how he received the holy ghost –if anyone is interested let me know–it was pretty cool. I had been begging God to speak in tongues ever since I was baptized at 8 years old.
Anyway, after a week of the prayer and fasting, I skipped church to play board games with other less spiritual girls in the dorm and got conned into going to the prayer room where I was absolutely struck with tongues and a very personal interpretation and spoke in tongues for over an hour. It was real and changed my life.
I never did really ‘belong’ at ABI but I did get ‘saved’ and made some close friends (some still in church and some not) and then like most of the kids, I found my husband –we all called the school Apostolic Bridal Institute.
My husband was also 3rd generation Oneness but he had been AOG until he was 12 and then his parents were finally won back when he and his brothers went to a Oneness church camp with his preacher uncle and all 3 received the holy ghost and came home wanting to change to UPC. We were a good match –still are –it will be 45 years this December.
Ok, that is all the good stuff, it kind of goes down hill from there but it took me 40 years to finally say enough! I will start the rest of the story later. Thanks for listening –this might just be cathartic 🙂