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Unformatted text preview: each one of them, something I was sure had never been done, and a feat that would put me in a class by myself among churchgoers. The denominations were varied and baffling how could Protestants, all of whom claimed to follow the same basic tenets, get themselves so divided? They agreed basically that (l)Jesus was the only son of God; (2) he was born of a virgin; (3) lived a perfect life; (4) was persecuted by the Jews, arrested and crucified by the Romans; (5) that he arose on the third day and later ascended into heaven; (6) and some believed—though there were many variations—that one must follow Jesus in baptism and faith to make it to heaven. The doctrine was fairly straightforward, but the devil was in the details. There were no Catholics, Episcopalians, or Mormons. The county was heavily Baptist, but they were a fractured bunch. The Pentecostals were in second place, and evidently they had fought with themselves as much as the Baptists. In 1974, I'd begun my epic adventure to visit every church in Ford County. The first had been the Calvary Full Gospel, a rowdy Pentecostal assemblage on a gravel road two miles out of town. As advertised, the service began at ten-thirty, and I found a spot on the back pew, as far away from the action as I could get. I was greeted warmly and word spread that a bona-fide visitor was present. I did not recognize anyone there. Preacher Bob wore a white suit, navy shirt, white tie, and his thick black hair was wound around and plastered tightly at the base of his skull. People started hollering when he was giving the announcements. They waved their hands and shouted during a solo. When the sermon finally began an hour later, I was ready to leave. It lasted for fifty-five minutes, and left me confused and exhausted. At times the building shook with folks stomping the floor. Windows rattled as they were overcome with the spirit and yelled upward. Preacher Bob "laid hands" on three sick folks suffering vague diseases, and they claimed to be healed. At one point a deacon stood and in an astounding d...
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- Spring '10