A great many people are surprised to learn that I am an ordained minister. Strange as it may seem to those who know me, I, in fact, possess not one, but two ordinations.
In one of the churches Budge and I attended while courting, and for a long time after our marriage, I was an unpaid associate pastor and technical support. I knew more about computers and A/V technology than anyone else in the 200 member congregation so when tech issues came up, I was in charge of fixing them.
When I first started attending, we sang off the wall songs — literally. We had the lyrics printed on transparencies. During service, a praise team member would place a transparency on an overhead that projected the words onto a side wall of the choir loft. On a good day, the transparency would be the correct song AND in the correct orientation (i.e. not upside down or flipped so the words were mirror written.) In the name of progress, however, the church council decided to ditch the overhead and jump the digital divide by installing a first class media projector on the 50′ ceiling of the sanctuary and connecting this marvel to a computer in the back balcony.
Here my troubles began.
One of the duties of my ministry to the church was to run the PowerPoint presentation of songs that replaced the overhead sheets. I would flip back and forth between songs or between verse and chorus. I don’t know how many of you have ever attended a true Pentecostal service, but if you go to a service and don’t know the words to the song, hymn, etc . . . don’t fret, you’ll know it just fine by the 17th time you sing it — while standing . . . and clapping.
The new system worked great during regular services. My conundrum came about the initial “First Sunday Night Singing” we used the new projector. Sunday Night Singing, for those who aren’t baptized in the Holy Ghost and Fire, is a once a month Sunday night service devoted to singing. We’d have solos, duets, the Ladies’ Ensemble and the Senior Men’s Quartet. You get the idea. I fixed up a set of slides in the order of the singers with the singer or group’s name. If I found out what they were singing, I’d put that underneath their names.
Because of that design trait, I almost got a double barrel blast of embarrassment because Dee and Kristie Gail were singing that first night. They are sisters from Harlan County Kentucky and universally known as “The Kentucky Sisters;” however, “The Kentucky Sisters” wouldn’t fit on the slide in the 125 point font I preferred so I decided to abbreviate it. As a result, I very nearly shot a slide onto the 15′ x 15′ screen in 8″ high letters that said, “The KY Sisters and ‘He Touched Me'”. It might have given Sister Molly Spell, the eldest member of the church, a heart attack . . . provided she knew what KY stood for besides Kentucky. At 92, I doubt it, but you never know. Anyway, I digress.
The singing was in full swing and I was changing slides every five to fifteen minutes depending on how much “the Spirit fell” during each song. During one of the longer stretches, I discovered the “FREEZE SCREEN” button on the projector remote control. To test it, I shot the projector and cued up the next slide and, sure enough, the monitor changed, but the screen didn’t! I thought I was in Fat City because, to be honest, it gets right boring alone in the balcony just pushing a button every now and again.
So, without another moment’s thought, I froze the screen and pulled up FreeCell — the King of Time Killer Card Games! I was on a roll that night. I’d won seven straight games and was immersed in game number 8 when I learned something about our particular model of Hitachi LCD projector — the “FREEZE SCREEN” function only lasts for 15 minutes at a time. After that, it releases and goes back to showing whatever is on the computer at the time. You haven’t lived until your FreeCell game suddenly appears behind the music pastor and his wife like Moses parting the Red Sea in DeMille’s “Ten Commandments”.
As one, the congregation turned towards the balcony. The shot only lasted MAYBE five seconds, but one can die a lifetime in five seconds. What’s worse, I could hear Sister Molly asking her granddaughter what was going on. Unfortunately, Sister Molly didn’t think her granddaughter had understood the aforementioned question and, being somewhat hard of hearing, she figured everyone else in the world shared her infirmity as well. So, with the church still silently stunned at the intrusion of the Devil’s handiwork into a worship service, and at the hands of the associate pastor no less, what did I hear loudly and clearly, along with most of the town of Fountain Inn a good twelve miles away?
“I SAID, ‘WAS THE YOUNG FELLER WINNIN’ OR NOT?!
The next Sunday, I noticed FreeCell had been deleted.
Keep those feet clean 🙂
That was one of the funniest stories I have ever read! I could just picture you as that was happening. You have always been a great story teller and I enjoy reading everything you write. I look forward to reading more.