Growing up in the country you were sure to find little white churches everywhere. I can rattle off at least ten that are within a ten minute drive of the farm. When my family first moved to western Kentucky we even started one on the farm. It is still there, but back in the 1940’s my family moved to our current church in town. The church sits up on a hill in the tiny town of 300. It’s tall copper steeple can be see all over town. It’s bell echoes around the value. It’s history is long and ummm…sordid. So many of my views on community, home, and ultimately faith are all deeply rooted within the walls and characters of that church. While religion doesn’t really have a place or a role within my business, my beliefs about being a Christ like person are a cornerstone to the brand. I feel like I need to make an aside to all of this, simply to clarify something that may not be super obvious. I was raised in the country. I was raised in Kentucky. I was raised Baptist. I will let you take a moment to pull together all of your Kim Davis stereotypes. I was raised by a very liberal family and was raised in a church that had so many problems that judging someone for the way they were brought into this world was way outranked by judging them for their ignorant transgressions. I digress. While I was young the church was rather small, we averaged between 30-50 people a week. When I was ten our church was at 100, but after a split we were left with 30 members. This led to me being in the same Sunday School class for ten years. By that age I had already learned the order of the books of the Bible, I knew the Lord’s Prayer, I could rattle off the Ten Commandments, and I’d seen The Prince of Egypt enough to make me question most every scene in the movie. The second floor of the church was covered in blood red carpet, high ceilings, leaded glass doors, and windows that were covered in old white sheers. Every inch of the upstairs was absolutely timeless. It was a constant, it was a color of carpet that will forever haunt me.
I was the only kid in my church. My Sunday School teacher and tried to work our way through Lifeway’s books over and over, but after a couple of years we realized they just recycled the same stuff over and over. Slowly we abandoned the materials in favor of the two teachers using it as a gossip hour. Yes. I know. You’re thinking—oh how very Baptist of you. I learned more in those years of gossip than I will ever learn in a lifetime of attending church. We could tear a person to shreds with ease, we could hold the transgressions of their great grandmother against them, we could make an hour fly by. I am half convinced I owe all of my salty-semi-sweet-semi-bitter dry wit to the women of my church. During those years I lived for the gossip. In the years after I lived for the way the ladies of my church were continually helping each other out. They were caring for the community. They were growing the community. They were never afraid to help someone out. The gossip was simply a coded language for discussing the help we as a church or they as individuals could give those in the community. Those discussions led to food baskets, and community outreach. They were never shy about helping their own children and their own families. In those years I truly learned what grace was and how to extend grace to those around you. I learned how to be humble, yet thankful for all you’ve been given, and willing to share with those that have less.
I also learned how to properly set up a funeral potluck, how to serve VBS refreshments, how to hide Easter eggs, and how to be endlessly thankful that I grew up in a church that never discussed politics and lived by the teachings of Jesus rather than the ways of the Old Testament.
In the years since growing up in my church my faith has evolved a lot, but that really isn’t the point of this essay. When I went to college I joined one of the campus ministry groups. Their mission was, and still is, to be build positive community. The ideas of helping others, being non judgmental, and creating a community that was about growing together as a part of humanity were at their core.
This is the point where I could easily get on a soapbox and preach about separation of church and state and blah blah blah, but that isn’t my place. For me it doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not. To me it matters that we are all supportive of each other’s quest for enlightenment and that we are all working together towards a better, brighter, and more loving society.