Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Church on 19th Street

I pass this little church every day on my walks with Dot. It's a Seventh Day Adventist church smack dab in the middle of a little residential neighborhood a few blocks from my house, and it intrigues me every single time I go by.

The parishioners are all Hispanic, I never hear English being spoken, and there is a small parking lot full every Saturday night -- maybe 30 cars - and usually one or two nights during the week. The preacher is blacker than the darkest night and with his thick Caribbean accent, I'm guessing he's from Haiti or Trinidad or some similar place.

The front doors are ususally open and you can hear the preacher talking over a crackly PA system or the congregation singing songs accapella. But more often than not, they have a big screen up on the stage showing a Spanish-speaking preacher seriously shouting and sweating and dancing around in front of a huge audience that you can hear yelling and praising in the background. You can see the satellite dish in the picture, so this little church is obviously connecting to a larger church somewhere else in the world for the bulk of their messages being delivered by the wild man on the screen.

I always get a strange feeling about this place. Not really a bad feeling -- just strange. Kind of like there might be some grape Kool-Aid being passed out to the faithful and that guy on the big screen is going to tell them all when to take the Big Drink. Beth told me that in Louisiana the Seventh Day Adventist churches consist mainly of Africans and Creoles and they have always incorporated voo doo and animal sacrifices into their services. She tells one of the best stories about "Mimi", a Creole woman from Clinton, who attended one of these churches and was one of the town's most interesting characters.

I do crack myself up. Here's a simple little church minding its own business and I've got them sacrificing chickens just before they pull a Jonestown right here in central Oklahoma City! Not very fair, I guess, but it definitely keeps me thinking as the Dotopotamus and I walk by.


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