As people drove into the Old Salem Church, the abundance of hugs and smiles multiplied as they drove from near and far to attend the Annual Homecoming.
For some, only ten minutes were required to attend the event. Others drove for hours. One attendee, Susan Lowery, even made the trip from Ohio. “My grandmother was determined to keep this church going when she was alive,” Lowery said.
The occasion was a great opportunity for people, some who haven’t seen each other in years, to catch up. Positive vibes filled the entire building. When event organizer Jean Bradley tried to get everyone’s attention, someone actually had to give a holler because there was so much socializing.
The cloud coverage and gentle breeze were greatly appreciated as the temperatures had risen to almost 95 degrees.
Sheldon Cosma, the new minister of The New Castle Christian Church, said the blessing before people lined up for the 50-feet of delicious food to choose from underneath the covered pavilion.
“I am going to need sideboards!” said one lady before adding, “It’s too much to choose from.”
And, it was. The selections included fried chicken, mashed potatoes, beef noodle casserole, quiche, corned pudding, corn on the cob, green beans, squash casserole, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, macaroni salads, slaw and fruit salads and much more.
The desserts were too delicious to choose only one. “How many can I have?” asked one gentleman with a grin. “Only one,” a lady shared as she tapped his fingers from grabbing a second one. Then she put three on her plate as she laughed. He immediately backed up and added his selections.
Though the chatter decreased a bit, the atmosphere was filled with joy.
Attendees overheard some telling stories, while others shared which family members were hospitalized. Many attendees were introduced to new people.
After the meal was finished, a special program was planned in the church.
“This will never get old. I love this little church,” said an elderly lady.
Everyone found a place to sit.
The windows and doors were open to allow the breeze to infiltrate the sanctuary. Decorations of old pitchers were filled with beautiful wildflowers of Black-eyed Susans, Queen Anne lace and sweetpeas.
The old wood stove, oil lanterns and the hand-crafted items took many into memories of ‘the good old days.’ Many picked up the antique hand fans and put them to use as it was a bit warm inside.
Bradley welcomed everyone, and Jennifer Crawford played the piano while participants joined in singing, Praise Him! Praise Him!, Just a Closer Walk with Thee and Amazing Grace.
Cosma announced to everyone that they were probably witnessing a historical moment. He held up his iPad. “I bet no one has brought one of these in here yet,” he said as many shook their heads in agreement with laughter.
Cosma shared a story of a lady who was heating a tortilla in a pan. It burned and that mark looked like the face of Jesus.
He also spoke on worship and its importance and how it can bring everyone together in one place, including the Biblical persons of Mary singing, David dancing and Peter and John praising God in prison.
“You can worship in a closet or on a ballfield,” he said. “It can be conducted any way as long as we worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
Many people worship when they take communion or fall prostrate with their faces to the ground, according to Cosma.
Cosma told a story of a lady who was a huge fan of Paul Newman. She had entered an ice cream store and saw him standing there. Her knees buckled as she was in awe. She managed to pay for the cone and left the store. When she regained her composure, she noticed that she didn’t get her ice cream cone, so she went back into the store.
There was Mr. Newman at the door and again, her knees got weak. He asked her if she was looking for her ice cream cone and she replied “yes.” He told her to check her purse as she had put it in there when she dropped her change in it.
Cosma asked everyone, “When was the last time that you had an encounter with God that buckled your knees? Have you really stopped to think about how amazing God is?”
He continued, “Have you really looked into the face of God? You see the face of God when you start looking at people with the eyes of God. Remember, you may be the only Jesus someone sees that day.”
Cosma noted that when one truly meets Jesus, they cannot help but be changed.
“Worship is a lifestyle and goes with you when you leave and enter your house. It happens when you decide not to watch a movie that shows an unpure lifestyle, it happens when you present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice that is pleasing unto God.”
Cosma concluded by saying, “When we really worship him in spirit and in truth, we are going to exalt God, we will exemplify a pure and holy lifestyle to others for God and edify and build up the church and one another.”
Bradley noted that due to all the rain, they did not have a cleanup day this summer, however, one will be planned for the fall if anyone would like to assist.
There had been two mowings paid for out of the treasury and they still had money left over to do a little needed work.
A basket was set at the pew as everyone walked in. Many gave generously to help with the upkeep, in hopes to continue the annual get-togethers.
“I want to thank everyone for coming and those who helped, including Kathy Jones for cleaning and Leeann Mattox for the beautiful floral arrangements. I want to invite you to the Christmas Candlelight Service the first Sunday in December,” Bradley said. “We are so glad you all came today.”