TL;DR jump to audio file. Also, see the note at the end for disclaimer regarding names mentioned in this post.
Flashback – Summer, 1981
I was in-between semesters at Furman and was trying to earn a bit of cash for school by working maintenance for Laurens School District 55. This particular summer I was painting Sanders Middle School with an older guy (and by older, I mean probably in his mid-30s) whose first name I could only remember – Willie. Willie was a hard worker, and taught me lots about commercial painting, most of which I’ve long since forgotten. I liked Willie, and enjoyed my work with him that summer.
Willie was a devout Christian, and enjoyed listening to a local Black Gospel station on AM radio. I got into it, too, listening jealously to some of the piano chops these guys had. However, the one thing that made my day were the advertisements for Reverend Yuri. At precisely 11:25 am and 2:25 pm these would air.
Reverend Yuri was a spiritual advisor and reader located on Cedar Lane in Greenville. To this day I can point out his former establishment, which still looks rather weird. (I only know it was the place because there was a large billboard proclaiming it as Yuri’s, and not from any actual visits to the establishment.) His advertisements featured him using the vernacular, and started like this…
Is you tired? Is you lonely? Has your friends let you down? Reverend Yuri can help…
In the following years I’d tune in every now and then to listen to the ads, simply because I loved the use of the lilting vernacular. A couple of years later Reverend Yuri was replaced by “Sister Yuri.” I don’t know what happened. Sex change? Had I misunderstood the gender from the get-go, and the voice I was appreciating was that of the announcer? Who knows? Eventually Yuri closed shop and the ads ended. Continue reading “The New Modern Prophets”
As you drive through several communities in Western North Carolina, you will see wooden crosses dotting the countryside. These crosses are free-standing, about ten feet high, and bear a message, usually something like “Jesus Saves from Sin” or “Jesus Died for Sinners.” These are found in front of Baptist churches in the area, and occasionally in front of private homes.
Continue reading “The Mystery of the Cross(es)”
A weird chain of events led to an interesting investigation into history tangentially related to my family. This morning I participated in a webinar on the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program, sponsored, in part, by the University of South Carolina Libraries. One of the presenters mentioned the possibility of doing genealogy research using the archive. I decided to try a few search terms associated with my family history to see what I found. I actually didn’t find much about my family, but I did find another tale, full of conflict, misunderstandings, racism, and corruption.
The newspaper archives are hosted on the Library of Congress website as part of their Chronicling America series. The newspapers cover all states from 1836 – 1922. Any family search would have to be within those target dates.
I decided to start with my grandfather, Rev. O. E. Taylor, since he would fit within the tail end of that time frame. I restricted my search to issues of the Laurens Advertiser. Unfortunately, his name didn’t return any hits, even when I expanded it to all newspapers in the state. It did return a Rev. E. O. Taylor, who was an episcopal bishop in the state at the same time.
I changed tactics and started searching for churches where I knew my grandfather had preached, and there I hit pay dirt. The first term I tried was “Long Branch.” I grew up in Long Branch Pentecostal Church, which was founded by my grandfather and which my father later pastored. My grandmother taught at Long Branch School, and I have lots of other relatives in the area. The term returned several hits in The Laurens Advertiser, almost all of them relating to an issue of religion being taught at the public Long Branch School. Continue reading “The Unknown Tongue”
Long Branch Pentecostal Holiness Church…
The name is long in our family lore. The church was established by my grandfather in 1911, as were many of the Pentecostal Holiness churches of this area. My father pastored the church for most of the 1960’s, and it is here that I have my earliest memories of church.
The church was small, and our large family made up a sizable bit of the congregation. My father preached and led the singing, and my mother played the piano after Mrs. Annabelle Brown left that position. It was just a tiny, unique country church, but its effect on us was indelible. The place is etched in our memories, and the myths and legends of Long Branch have grown over time, and have been embellished through retelling. So, today, nearly forty years since I last set foot in the church, I decided to see how close those myths were to today’s reality. Continue reading “Return to Long Branch”
Last night was the first night of Passover. According to Wikipedia… Passover begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, which corresponds to the full moon of Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew calendar, in accordance with the Hebrew Bible. This is also the first full moon after the vernal equinox, and … Continue reading Paschal Moon
Saturday I attended the William Walker Memorial Shape Note Singing at Wofford College in Spartanburg. This was a special occasion, marking the bicentennial of Walker’s birth. An entire weekend of events had been planned for the event. In addition to the singing, there would be an evening showing of the documentary Awake My Soul, and … Continue reading William Walker Memorial Singing 2009
Last week I mentioned about my chance encounter with a book in the South Carolina Room of the Greenville County Library. I had picked up a random book off the shelf entitled “Life Sketches and Sermons” by “Reverend N. J. Holmes and wife” and had opened it to a random page to find my grandmother’s … Continue reading Life Sketches and Sermons
I had written several weeks ago about this being the earliest Easter any of us were ever going to see. With temperatures dropping into the 30’s at night and flowers just now opening, it does seem like Easter is too soon. Regardless, we decided that early must be the theme, so we went to the … Continue reading Early Easter at Fourth
I’ve completed a Lenten quest. I’ve listened to the entire King James version of the Bible as read by Alexander Scourby. I wasn’t sure if I could do it all within the time constraints of Lent, but I made it with room to spare, finishing up Revelations during Holy Week. I accomplished this by downloading … Continue reading 66 Books in 40 Days
On my way back from one of my schools this morning I spotted this sign… My first thought was, “Oh boy, yet another pastor who is ignorant of church history, and who buys into that ‘War on Christmas’ junk.” About.com gives a nice concise description of how the phrase “Xmas” came to be. It is … Continue reading Xmas and Rebel Flags