A few weeks ago I dreamt about a country church.
At first I was inside the church, waiting for a friend in a sort of reception area and then I walked out into the parking lot. The landscape was open and flat, mostly fields with a bit of forest to my right. In the distance there was a pay phone. The phone rang, than stopped. A pickup truck emerged from the wooded area and a man hopped out to get his mail. It was peaceful and quiet.
Wandering back into the small wooden church, I saw that a small group of people were decorating the reception area as if for a holiday. There was a sort of stage and some kind of tapestry but I don’t remember anything else about the decorations. The group included the pastor of the church and a few women, one of whom was a new convert with a background in the New Age.
Somehow I understood that the Church was Methodist and I asked the new convert what kind of Methodist. She told me it was Free Methodist and I told her about my grandmother and her love for the Free Methodist Church.
When the group was done working, the waiting area was spotless. There was a single hard backed chair facing the stage and wide old wood floors. Aside from the stage the room was sparsely furnished and plain. I could tell it was 1800s construction.
On the other side of the reception area was a big room where a dinner was being served. There were a long serving tables against the walls and trestle tables where people sat eating. Women were dishing up food to the crowd. People were talking and laughing. Everything was old-fashioned and inviting. I joined the group. And that is where the dream, or my memory of the dream, ended.
I thought about the Free Methodist Church later that day. I had never gone there with my grandmother that I remember and her funeral, which I attended at the age of 12, is a blur. Once in High School, I attend Free Methodist services with a friend. I had a good experience there but did not go back.
I did vaguely remember someone in my family saying that “everyone” on my grandfather’s side of the family were Free Methodist ministers so last night I decided to do a little research. As it turns out, “everyone” means five out of seven sons, as pictured above. My great-grandfather, Jacob Jay Zahniser, is the tall guy 5th from the left. In the second photo (below) he is the tall guy again, holding his Bible high and tight.
While I have pursued a variety of religions and beliefs over the course of my life, Christianity has surfaced repeatedly over wide cycles of time. Growing up in completely secular family, I loved the Bible my grandmother gave me as a little girl (more on that here) and turned to it again and again over the course of my life. No one else in my family had that interest, that I knew of, except for my grandmother.
How surprising to think that Bible Based Christianity is a family tradition I wasn’t even aware of!