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The White Church

Debbie Stanton | Stories



Debbie Stanton

photo by Joshua Grob on Unsplash

In that beautiful, hilly state in America, an old white church’s future existence lie in peril. The membership up and died in the last 50 years, and no one remaining in the small town wanted to take care of the grounds anymore. In fact, no instructions were found regarding who the church belonged to and who would take care of it.

photo by Nati on Unsplash

A town forum was held to vote on the future of the church. Stan Pardon and his wife Julia had offered up their bed and breakfast, Three Waters, to hold the voters. The long tables in the dining room would be just big enough to hold everyone.

Before the meeting, Stan tossed some pink wooden cubes between his hands over and over, deep in thought.

photo by Rodion Kutsnev

“Stan, stop playing with the centerpieces. They weren’t meant as toys!” Julia chided him.

“I mean no harm. Just admiring Susan’s handiwork,” came the reply. The cubes were beautiful. Each one had a shape carved in one of the sides and painted. A person could tell a lot of work and love went into the making of these cubes. Julia had proudly placed three of them at each place setting.

The dining room of Three Waters was a warm and happy setting. The plates were colorful to match the Mexican tile on the walls. The Pardons hoped this setting would encourage the town to remember their fond memories of the church and thereby save it for future generations.

When the forum gathered, the mayor began the meeting after a tasty luncheon was served.

“Good afternoon, forum members. Thank you for coming out to help decide the fate of the church. And a special thanks to the Pardons for hosting this meeting,” he said. When he sat down, another man popped up.

“We’ve all joined other churches in the area now. The church is like an albatross around our necks,” Nelson said. A sharp intake of everyone else’s breath was heard, plain as day.

“I disagree! Why topple a church that did nothing to harm you?” Mrs. Lane said forcefully. Talking loudly like this surprised herself and everyone at the tables. The forum knew the church meant a lot to her. Mrs. Lane felt so weak after her outburst she had to sit down now or faint later.

“Agreed,” three or four people said.

“But why hold onto this antique? We don’t even have a caretaker,” Nelson’s buddy, Milligan, said. He looked around and saw some heads nod.

Stan harrumphed as he took the floor. “It seems reasonable to take a vote on this. Please think long and hard before you cast your vote. And don’t look to see what other people wrote down. This has to be your conscience voting, not your neighbors’ at this table.”

Susan passed out half pieces of paper and pencils to the group. After a long time at the table, long enough for folks to get sore from sitting so long, the last vote was turned in. Benson Dubar counted the votes. Who better to count than the town accountant?

“Shoot. We are evenly tied except for one vote. We’ll have to repeat the voting process.”

Disappointment was heard. Small squabbles among the people began. Susan hustled to find more paper.

“All right, here are your new votes. Please tear up your first votes before you vote,” Susan said. Stan rapped the table with his gavel—more than once, in fact—before the people voted again.

Benson counted the votes, and this time he wore a big grin. “Save the church carries the vote! Hurray!” Clapping hands of at least some of the people ensued.

Mad that the vote hadn’t gone his way, Nelson stood up. “I demand to know what turned the tide. Why do most of you want to save the church now?”

“When some of you were arguing, others of us talked quietly. We all remembered one thing,” Mrs. Lane said. She now had her strength back.

“What is that?” a young man piped up.

“Remember that song, well I guess you wouldn’t since you’re young, but there’s a song called something like “The Little Brown Church in the Vale.” In our minds, the white church is like the song. It’s a wonderful church in the beautiful valley. Besides, isn’t that what you young people are always saying—conserve and appreciate nature? If you look down at it from the top, well, it’s breathtaking!”

“Couldn’t hurt to keep it. Good for the visitor trade, right?” Jay from the Chamber of Commerce said.

Now some of the naysayers agreed. Stan began to clap his approval until every single person at the table followed his lead.

Julia stood up. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I’m thankful the church gets to stay. I’ll even mow the lawn, just to keep peace. Because to me, the church represents love.” Seeing some nods, she said one more thing.

“Please feel free to take home the little cubes in front of you. Our daughter Susan made them with love and wants to share them. Just like voting to keep the church shows the love we have in our hearts.”

“Amen to that,” three people said at the same time.

Total words:  889


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