09 May, 2009

Millerville Baptist Axes Mother's Day Recognitions

Van Cleave, AL --  Millerville Baptist Church will not hold its annual Mother's Day recognitions during this year's Mother's Day service, ending a 40 year old tradition.

Over the past four decades, Millerville has awarded "prizes" for (1) Newest Mother, (2) Oldest Mother, (3) Mother with the Most Children, and (4) Mother with the Most Children Present.  "It will be impossible for us to have a repeat of last year's incident this year because we are not carrying on the tradition this year," said pastor Will Scholls.

There have been occasional moments of awkwardness through the years, but the 2008 Mothers Day recognitions at Millerville were a total disaster.  

To begin, Meagan Freemont, 24, had dreamed all of her life of receiving the Newest Mother award and even planned the timing of her marriage and subsequent pregnancy to coincide with the event.  But the grand total of two weeks of life amassed by her daughter, May Elizabeth, caused Meagan to lose out to a 14 year old, out-of-wedlock mother who happened to be visiting from Mississippi with her 4 day old son.   Heads turned quickly as the young girl on the back row answered "four days" when song leader Lester Scott asked "Has anyone been a mother for less than 2 weeks?" assuming there would be none as he approached Meagan.  Lester was stunned for a moment before proceeding to the back to hand the young girl the corsage prize as Meagan began crying.  The scene became very ugly when Meagan's tears turned to furious outbursts, where she was heard  screaming "harlot" amidst many other angry words on more than one occasion during the rest of the service.

Lester wanted to quickly move on to Oldest Mother and immediately asked all mothers over 80 to raise a hand.  About a dozen hands went up in the small sanctuary, and went down 1-by-1 as Lester counted up to 88 when two hands remained.  As he counted "89, 90, 91, 92, 93," two hands remained.  When he said "94" both hands went down.  The crowd applauded that both mothers had reached 93 years old.  But here is where the mistake occurred. Lester then asked each lady "In which month were you born?"  Mrs. Arnder answered "February," and Mrs. Weathersby answered "November."  Lester mistakenly concluded, "February is before November, so the corsage goes to Mrs. Arnder."  Two quiet CPAs, a mechanical engineer, and young Bobby Wilson immediately began jerking their heads around in disbelief that this mathematical error was actually occurring.  But it had, and Mrs. Arnder was holding a corsage meant for Mrs. Weathersby.  When TBNN representatives interviewed young Bobby about the error, he said, "Mrs. Weathersby seemed to be doing fine without her flowers, so I didn't say nothing at the time."

Things visibly heated up again though when Lester was unsure whether to award the Mother With the Most Children corsage to Mrs. Thelma Gentry who bore eight children or Mrs. Yvone Henderson who bore five children, was a step mother to two children from her second marriage, had adopted two later in life, and even sponsored two children through Help Save the Children.  He made the decision to award the corsage to Yvone, but not without a few gasps and many whispers.

You would think Mother with the Most Children Present would have been easy, but a problem arose.  Melissa Williams had all four of her children present and was about to receive the corsage when Jennifer Lawson, who had three children visibly present, decided this was the right time to announce that she was pregnant with twins.  The ceremonies stalled for almost 10 full minutes as bitter discussions ensued and several physical altercations broke out.  Lester could not calm things down, and eventually handed the flowers to Jennifer Lawson, announced his resignation, left the church and has not been seen to this day.  Without a song leader, the services ended and everyone left.


Eric said...

Brother Slawson,

This is so real it is scary. In fact, to avoid possibilities like you have mentioned, I'm not having any more of these "awards" in our church.

This is one of those posts where satire meets reality head-on.

Good job!

Elder Eric

Brother Slawson said...

Thanks Eric...
I do feel the awards can do more harm than good. Also... I have seen the "oldest mother" example actually take place. But the others are only examples that make me cringe.

Nicole said...

Very funny!

Darrin said...

I appreciated the mathematical challenge in award #2. Took me a minute.
I tend to agree with Eric too.
We Baptists are always recognizing each other (except in the liquor store). Must really love to clap for stuff.

The Brain said...

Right on - these awards can be unbelieveably awkward. Particularly because there may be things about motherhood that male ministers are *ahem* not too sensitive about. For instance, I was in a service once (in a small church were everybody knows everybody) where the twenty-something music minister finished the "newest mother" award, and, seeing only a pro-life moment in the making, asked if there were any women who wished to announce that they were newly expecting. I personally knew of two expecting mothers who had not previously been "announced" to the congregation, and noticed a third woman catch the eye of the second in a "we aren't telling" sort of way, but the female solidarity held, and no one made "the announcement" in such a cheeseball way. Some questions you just don't ask - you have to wait until she's ready to tell.

Joshua D. Boyce said...

This was absolutely incredible! Very nice post!

Jim Pemberton said...

This is why we always have extra awards handy and often give out more than one for any given category. The funny one was when the "mother of the youngest child" time came. Skip asked if anyone had a child younger than 2 months and an obviously expecting mother with a deviously sheepish grin pointed to her belly.

Nathan said...

"So real it's scary."?!?! Pardon my ignorance, but are there actually churches that dish out awards on Mother's Day? Way to go encouraging the bereaved mums, the childless couples and the lonely singles in church! Funny post. But frightening if it relates to reality in the way some commenters are saying it does.

Jim Pemberton said...

Yes, there are churches who dish out "awards" on Mother's Day. Mine does. We rejoice in God's gift of motherhood. With regards to discouraging non-mothers such as you have mentioned, the focus isn't on us, but on God who gives us what we need to accomplish his purpose. We are generally a very encouraging church and anyone who has lost a child or had a miscarriage has seen plenty of support from the rest of the church. They too should rejoice in God's blessings, even if any blessing has fallen on another. To be put out for it shows a lack of spiritual maturity. While it is true that we should not cause someone to stumble who is weak in the faith, we should at all times seek to strengthen them so they might not stumble when challenged.

I think that's where the humor in this article is. It's a spoof on how we tend to take the blessings of God and try to draw the focus on ourselves.

You may argue that awarding mothers does the same thing. To be sure, it's merely a token. I don't remember who gets recognized even a week later. But I do know, and it is firmly established constantly, that my congregation as a whole reveres God's blessing of motherhood as well as all of God's blessings. And that shared knowledge contributes to an internal church culture that is spiritually healthy.