Brush arbor meetings
by Ruth Baker
Apr 17, 2011 | 2302 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ruth Baker
Ruth Baker
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Summer-time in the South brought “protracted” meetings. (The name came from the length of the meetings. They were not set for a certain number of days, but as long as the Spirit moved, they kept it going). In the early days, these were held under a brush arbor. The men got together and cut sapling trees. These were young, easy to handle trees, which were used to make a temporary shelter for a summer revival. The trees were placed upright in the earth and a latticework of smaller trees was placed across the top. Tree limbs with the leaves still on were piled on top to form a canopy. Small shelves were nailed onto the upright trees and kerosene lamps were set on these shelves to provide light for the service. The benches were made from planks, and at times even split trees were used.

We lived next to a family who attended the Church of God, headquarters in Anderson, Ind. The church was not Pentecostal but taught holiness living. The lady was a preacher, and we were not used to lady ministers in the church our family attended. She owned a portable organ and brought it for the music. She was a great musician and the songs were sung with gusto. Often, a visiting man preacher teamed with the lady to hold the meeting. There was a magical kind of holy hush in the woods on a warm summer night with the dim light of kerosene lamps and the music ringing out through the woods.

Another peculiarity (to us) was that they preached against using tobacco. During the revival meeting, the mourners who prayed at the altar very often got up from the altar and cast their tobacco off the side of the hill. At times, a drinker of alcohol would leave a bottle at the altar.

My brothers attended the services religiously – not for spiritual reasons, but to reap the harvest in the woods later. They would go into the woods early the next day and find snuff boxes, tobacco in cloth bags with a draw-string top, and plugs of chewing tobacco. They were in “hog heaven.” There was little money for them to have to buy these “luxuries.” They never considered doing anything wrong. If these people didn’t want their “terbacky,” then they didn’t want it to go to waste. “Boys will be boys,” the older ones said.

No good pictures are available of the brush arbors used for church services due to the lack of cameras in the rural South.

They had simple poles cut for post, others laced across the top, and brush piled on top to deflect the sun. Logs were cut for seats, or planks laid across from one log cut to another.

An added note for the time of year: last evening, here in the Garden Homes, Patricia Bland heard her first whipporwill of the season. Her deep sighs and ooh’s and ah’s were an ecstatic reaction to nature’s gifts to us.

In the spring of the year, it takes a special kind of person to be so sensitive to the seasons and the changes.