Parsonage door always open to those in need

By Judy Brandon: Local columnist

In thinking about celebrating Clovis as 100 years old, I can recall some good times as a preacher’s kid in the late 1950s.

Daddy was pastor of Central Baptist Church here in Clovis and in the ’50s we had experiences that are a little different from what I have today. I must say I am most thankful for my upbringing and thankful for my role as “preacher’s kid.”

The experiences Susie, my sister, and I had as preacher’s children were varied. One of those experiences was living in the church parsonage. In Clovis, the parsonage wasn’t next door to the church like it was when my father was pastoring little country churches. But it still was the church’s house and we lived in it.

Along with that privilege came some responsibilities. Mother felt that since it was the church’s house, we needed to maintain an open door policy. Our home always had to be presentable and she fretted over nail holes, marks on the walls and stains on the carpet. We never even watered our yard on Sunday because someone might get the wrong idea. After all, it was the church’s house.

Occasionally we had travelers coming through town who would just appear at our house. Daddy’s name was in the phone book as pastor, along with our home phone number and address so strangers could show up anytime.

On one occasion, a man rang our doorbell. He was trembling and crying and told Daddy he had no reason to live. Daddy invited him in to talk. Then I knew what was coming: Mother told me to play some “soothing” hymns for him on the piano while she made coffee. Mother was always volunteering me to play the piano for company. I appreciated her confidence but disliked doing it.

One particular night, we heard a heavy knock on the door. Daddy answered the door and a man, very unkempt, in baggy clothes, with a small sack of belongings, stood at the door. Then he asked my father, “Are you the preacher?”

“Yes,” Daddy said. “How can I help you?”

Then he told my daddy he was hitchhiking through the country and had not eaten in two days. Of course, Daddy asked him in. Mother told him she would heat up a meal for him. She said, “Make yourself comfortable on the couch.”

Then she glanced at me with that look. Then dreaded words came: “Judy, why don’t you sit down and play the piano for our guest while I heat his food? Play the hymn that you learned from Mrs. Prothro this week.” (I always learned a new hymn every week from my piano teacher Mrs. Prothro.)

Reluctantly I sat dawn and began to play. I will never forget the name of the hymn for that week, “Work for the Night is Coming!” I pounded it out as this shaggy, penniless guy with no job sat in his captive situation and listened. I am sure that if he knew what hymn it was, he may have thought there was a hidden message. But I wasn’t smart enough to put the two together.

Many years have passed since that night. Times have changed. I can still play the piano even though my skills are quite lacking. We don’t sing that song anymore at church. Now in addition to churches there are food banks and shelters to take care of those who need help.

But I do know this: I am thankful for a godly heritage and the example my parents set. They always had open hearts and an open door to our home. It was a privilege to have grown up in the midst of it all.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: cbrandon@plateautel.net