As I continue to travel through my 80 years of memories, I have recounted that which I remember regarding my religious experiences as a member of the Church of Christ. I am fully aware that this is a …
As I continue to travel through my 80 years of memories, I have recounted that which I remember regarding my religious experiences as a member of the Church of Christ. I am fully aware that this is a one sided presentation as I have very little knowledge of the history of the various denominations in the county. Therefore I have approached preachers of some of the denominations to inquire if they might wish to add a little to this column in their own writings. We will see how this works out.
Meanwhile, I will attempt to wrap up my personal story of past memories of my Dad's preaching and later move to more memories of religion then as compared to what I see it to be today.
There are many other congregations of the Church of Christ located in the county but I do not recall that Dad ever preached in Gospel Meetings for them. The Crossroads congregation located on Highway 5 is an exception as I have fond memories of this church, dating back to Shepherd Tubbs and family. The Crossroads members have moved into a newer building than the one where I attended when young.
One thing that makes this congregation special was that they allowed me and my wife to accompany them on a mission trip to Scotland where we knocked on doors and passed out pamphlets and invitations to attend church services. After a week doing this, a local preacher took us on a grand tour of the Scottish Highlands, and then a train trip to London. The late Benny Wayne Hester was the preacher at Crossroads at that time and had made other trips to Scotland.
One of the things that made this trip special was that shortly before we went on this trip our daughter, Larisa, who had earlier been a student at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, had spent a summer in Scotland and had made many friends there. We took the opportunity to visit some of them and made friends with them ourselves. One family, from Sterling Scotland, has since came to visit us here in the USA.
There is another church where Dad held meetings which is no longer active and which many of the members went to the Curry congregation after it was established. The church at Manchester held a special meaning to our family as it was where my uncle was raised and attended. This has a sad story connected to it as this uncle was killed while fighting in the second world war.
Mother's sister, Joyce, was married to I.N (Issac Newton) Sanford who was raised in Manchester. I.N. was a graduate of the University of Alabama and Joyce a Jacksonville State student. After their marriage, I.N. went into the Air Force where he trained to be a navigator on a bomber. Before leaving for duty he had the opportunity to take a brief leave to see his newborn daughter, Jane. I was there when he got to hold her, but his leave was very brief and he return to fly on missions from the English Soil. Sadly, he did not return from one of his missions and was never heard from again.
The summer following Larisa's stay in Scotland, she spent in England. While there she sought out a monument at Oxford University on which the names of those who failed to return from their combat missions during the war were inscribed. There she saw the name of her great uncle which his own daughter never got to know. Such was the sacrifices made for our freedoms.
Before ending this segment I will briefly give an account of my religious work here and in Arkansas. I have framed a calendar which my mother saved which was from Poe Brothers General Merchandise, Corona, Alabama On it was inscribed; “We teach your dollar to have more cents.”
All the months had been torn from it except the last one. It was for the year 1949 and on the 7th of December she had the date circled with the notation “Wheeler preached his first sermon.” I was baptized late that summer and had turned 11 years old. The subject of my sermon was the word “Must.”
My Goodness! That lacks only a year being 70 years ago. Where does time go? Maybe it was a mistake to reveal this information as now people will question why I am not better at speaking as to what I now am. I have never claimed to be a fast learner. I delivered a few sermons after my first one, but it was not until I moved to Arkansas, 10 years following my first effort to preach, that I started preaching on a regular basic for the church in Wilson, Arkansas, in 1959.
I was preparing to enter Harding College and the experience helped. While at Harding I preached for Plummerville, a church near Morrilton, Arkansas the first year, and the next three years at the Bell's Chapel congregation a little further west near Atkins, Arkansas.
After returning to Walker County in 1965 after my graduation from Harding, in December I started to work for the State of Alabama in what was then the Department of Pensions and Securities. But in March of 1967 I transferred to work for the Board of Pardons and Paroles where I worked until my retirement at the end of February 1998 after almost 33 years with the state.
Earlier in the year of 1965 after my return from a mission trip to Japan and Korea, I started preaching at Cedar Creek. In late 1969 I took my Dad's place at Tubbs Church of Christ where I preached for 36 years. After our building burned I informed the congregation there that with the new building, they needed a new preacher. I now speak one Sunday a month at the Central Congregation in Addison and do yearly mission work.