DAYTONA, FL - When you visit Orange Grove Baptist Church, the first thing you see is a lot of the number three. The number is on the cars, on the trucks, in the nursery, and even in the worship center. You may think, "Wow, they really like the Trinity here." They may, but that is not the reason for the ubiquitous 3. "We really like Dale Earnhardt, and we know he is part of 'Heaven's Racing Team,'" said deacon Frank Drake.
This type of obsession is probably harmless in most places, but not in Daytona, a hotbed of NASCAR. However, the dangers of Earnhardt-mania did not come to the surface until last week. That's when the church purchased a new van.
"The deacons gave me the go-ahead, so I checked out prices for a 15-passenger van," said pastor Steven Williams. "The best price I could find in the Daytona area was for a Ford. I thought the church members would be happy that we saved a little money. Good stewardship is usually important to most people. I had no way of anticipating the response."
Pastor Williams reportedly bought the Ford on a Thursday. By Saturday, word of the purchase had circulated through the church. Most of the members were not pleased.
Deacon Drake told TBNN, "The pastor has only been here about six months. He used to live in Vermont, so he doesn't understand how important this is. We are a Chevy church. When we watch NASCAR, we only root for the fellas driving Chevys. We only drive Chevys, or at least some other make of GM. Somehow that slipped through the cracks in the pastoral-search process. Now we have a mess on our hands."
On Sunday morning, most of the members gave Pastor Williams the cold shoulder. He preached from Isaiah chapter six and couldn't even get one "amen." After the service, as the pastor tried to greet his flock at the back of the church building, he was given many curt responses such as, "Remember that we love Dale," "Dale has been here a lot longer than you have," and "Chevy is the heartbeat of America."
Although we cannot confirm this, we have heard reports that a petition which calls for the pastor's resignation is making its way through the church. A special business meeting has been called for this coming Wednesday night.
A saddened Williams said, "I guess it is all in God's hands now. I am more than willing to try to take the Ford back and replace it with a Chevrolet. I'm not sure if the congregation will give me that chance. It appears that I have committed the unpardonable sin."
Fortunately for Pastor Williams, we at TBNN have learned that Providence Baptist Church, within ten minutes of Orange Grove, is in the process of looking for a pastor. Our sources tell us that they are a Ford church.
When we told Williams this, he simply said, "I guess I had better sell my family's old Toyota van."