My dad became the co-pastor of the church my grandfather pastored, and it was here that I spent the rest of my childhood. It is my understanding that they had the agreement all along that this would be the way that my dad would take over the church when my grandfather wanted to retire. This was to make sure there was no opening for the district to try to put in a pastor or influence the members.
It was during this time that I received the Holy Ghost, speaking in other tongues. I was eight years old, and had been “seeking” for a couple of years. The weekend before this happened, another little girl in the church had received the Holy Ghost, speaking in other tongues at a youth rally. I figured if she could do that, I could probably get it too. For me, there was nothing negative about this experience. It was wonderful in every way!
A few months before I had asked to be baptized, but my parents talked me out of it because they felt like I was just doing it because my friends were doing it. However, after that experience, I was allowed to be baptized. My grandfather baptized me in the name of Jesus. I know that I felt wonderful after being baptized!
However, even though we were little children, we were expected to pray for people in the altar, pray a full 30 minutes before church each service, and live “good holy lives.” It seems that before this point, I was not aware of the stipulations and rules about performance. After I received the Holy Ghost and was baptized, that burden begin to get heavier and heavier, as I slowly became aware of all the things “God expected” of me.
I remember one night during a very emotional service, my friend and I were falling out in the floor and rolling back-and-forth, because we had heard about the “old days” where people were “holy rollers.” Everyone was always “wanting to go back to the old paths in the old days.” I guess in our little minds we felt this was very spiritual. I remember one night during this time my dad “shouted”, which he rarely did, but when he was dancing, he turned over one of the pews on which a little boy was asleep. The child was not hurt, but did get dumped unceremoniously into the floor.
I remember one lady had difficulty giving up her cigarettes, even after being baptized and speaking in tongues. Several members of the church, including my parents, (which meant I was there too) stayed and prayed with her for hours, trying to help her “get the victory” over those cigarettes.
During those days, it was more common to have someone come to church who was “demon possessed”. When this would happen, and they would be trying to rebuke the devil out of this person, all of us children were sent into another room, presumably so the devil wouldn’t come out on us.
Very loud worship was encouraged, and if it was a really good service with a “real move of God,” people were usually dancing, having a “victory march”, “shouting”, or someone got the Holy Ghost. It happened a lot during that time.
I recall my dad getting frustrated with my grandmother, because during the long preaching, she would draw pictures for us on a tablet of paper and let us copy them. Once, my dad called her name out from the pulpit to rebuke her for drawing for us. It was not uncommon for him to call out certain children or teenagers who were not behaving during his preaching. Embarrassment seemed to be something he felt was effective for dealing with these kinds of problems.
As a shy child, I lived in fear of being called out in this way. It was very mortifying for me to have attention drawn to me negatively. I was very sensitive as a child, and a simple rebuke in private could bring me to tears. These public humiliations were a nightmare for me, and I did my best to avoid them at all costs.
Eventually my grandfather handed the church over to my father. He and my grandmother moved to another city to retire, and attended the church of my uncle, who was not UPC, but independent Oneness Pentecostal.