Words From Church

October 13th, 2016

To the folks I’m quoting in my column today – thanks. You’ve lifted my spirits.

And bless your heart.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, October 14, 2016, and in The Memphis News, October 15-21, 2016

Chruch Bulletin


As you could tell from last week’s column, this campaign is wearing on me and, I suspect, on you. Words don’t appear to matter. Truth is ignored and lies are embraced.

When feeling low, many of us turn to the church. It shouldn’t be surprising that this church bulletin item showed up in my email:

“Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.”

And then this:

“For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.”

Just in time, just when I couldn’t be taking things more seriously, a friend sent me a collection of purportedly actual excerpts from church bulletins around the country. I’d seen many of them before but I think seeing them now was a matter of divine intervention:

“Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.”

“Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.”

“The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.”

I was reminded that strangled words can be funny instead of fatal:

“Don’t let worry kill you off – let the Church help.”

“Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.”

“Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.”

And that meaning can get wonderfully mixed:

“The sermon this morning, ‘Jesus Walks on the Water.’ The sermon tonight, ‘Searching for Jesus.’”

“At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What Is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.” 

“The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.”

“Irving Benson and Jessie Carter will be married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.”

And that typos make all the difference:

“This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.”

“The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.”

“The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.”

Don’t we all long for the gracious hostility we used to know? But there are even more inviting events:

“The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.” 

And finally, as we are all carpet bombed with campaign donation requests daily, a church bulletin has a word on the subject:

“The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new campaign slogan last Sunday: ‘I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours.’”


I’m a Memphian, and my faith in smiling is restored.


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