Here I am in the South again (business), joined by DIL and her mum. Yesterday, being Sunday, we wanted to find a church service to attend. On the advice of a taxi driver the night before we showed up at the Bethel AME church. Welcomed by the pastor outside, we headed in and discovered immediately that AME stood for African Methodist Episcopal. We were the only white people in the entire church. Which, coming from the melting pot of culture that is Canada, was a bit of a surprise to us. But here in the South, things are different. We've noticed that there are still clear divides in town with regards to neighborhoods, even bars and restaurants. So I was a bit worried that we wouldn't be truly welcomed here in this church. I couldn't have been more wrong.
The first thing we noticed was how fancy everyone was. Ladies, mostly dressed in white, with pretty hats, and big jewelry, children in their Sunday best, gentleman in suits and ties. At home people are getting a bit slack in the church attire department and jeans are a common site. What ensued was a three hour, YES 3 HOURS of praising and singing and shouting out, dancing, swaying, drums, guitar, the most amazing singing, and speakers that were so powerful and had so much passion and such amazing messages People in the congregation were moved to shout and praise and nod in agreement. It was contagious. We as the "Sisters from Montreal" were mentioned 4 times during the service. We linked hands, watched 2 baptisms, listened as the Pastor broke out in song, watched the elderly ladies dancing and being honored at the front of the church. I was so moved I had goosebumps. 3 hours seemed like 30 minutes. I have NEVER felt such passion in a church EVER. And I am the great grand daughter of a Church of England Minister.
After the service the Pastor walked through his packed congregation and headed straight for us and told us that when we were back in town, this was our Church. I felt completely at home here, I would definitely go back. I was educated and enlightened in many ways. We had a lot of discussion after as to whether we are truly welcome or if they would prefer we went to church in a different neighborhood. What do you think. If a Church is African American should white people go? I don't want to be disrespectful at all to the Pastor or Congregation and I would really love to go back.
One of the speakers at the Church was Barbara Williams. She talked at length about the value of a day. At 12:01 am you have the gift of a new day. The previous day is now gone and either wasted it or made the best of it. This hit home to me in many ways....her message made an impact.
That evening we walked for an hour on the beach towards "The Pink Hotel....the Don Cesar pictured in my first photo. We returned to the beach hut snack bar where a band played as the sun went down and people gathered on the boardwalk to watch the sun dip behind the ocean. And when it was done, they rang the big brass bell....a tradition at Passe A Grille Beach. That was a perfect way to put emphasis on what Barbara Williams had talked about that morning. A day ended.....and it was marked with the ringing of the bell.