Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Gladiators Got Nothin' On Us!

Sunday is a day we go to church to worship God, learn about His Word, put something in the plate when they pass it, pray, dismiss, and then try to beat the Methodists to the restaurant.

For some unknown reason there is this "thing", for lack of a better Thesaurus word, between the Baptists and the Methodists. Maybe it goes back to the whole "sprinkle vs. dunk" controversy. I can't speak for the Methodists, but we Baptists leave church to eat faster than Scarlett fled Atlanta.

Why is this Best Seat in the House competition only between these two groups? Don't the Catholics and the Episcopalians eat lunch?

I have actually been part of a Sunday School discussion when the subject was new worship times. (How exciting to add a new worship time in order to seat everyone!) The Sunday School class was deciding which worship hour they would attend. One very Southern Baptist man stood up and said that he would just stick to the early worship hour because he "had to beat the Methodists to the restaurants." He wasn't kidding.

I am also privy to some information about a certain Methodist church in Alabama that actually changed their Sunday worship time so that they could beat the Baptists to the restaurants. Oh, yes they did!

Before you get discouraged about going to church because of this silly Sunday lunch seating issue, please be aware that most of us Baptists and Methodists do still attend church for the right reasons. We just like to eat after it is all over.

One Sunday, we went to an early worship with my in-laws who are Methodist. After church we went to Sunday brunch. As we finished our meal and left the table, a large group of people came in. My mother-in-law said, "Here come the Baptists."

See, the First Baptist Church and The First United Methodist Church are across the street from one another. This can be seen in many small towns across the South. I joked with my Methodist friend Nancy once that I had never seen a Baptist and a Methodist church share the same side of the street. She shared that, in her town they actually shared the same block and even shared parking lots!


In most small towns, there are only a few restaurants. You have the southern homecooking buffet place called "Mama's Kitchen" or "Billy Bob's Family Restaurant." Or you may even have a fancy place with the word "Magnolia" in the name. Then, there is usually a good BBQ place, a fried seafood restaurant if you live near the coast, and maybe a steak place, if you're lucky. That's it. Unless you eat at Hardee's or Dairy Queen. So, really the Baptist/Methodist restaurant relay is a result of supply and demand.

I may never know why this Olympic level of competition remains between these two denominations. But, I am certain that it will continue in small towns for centuries to come.

So, to all of you Methodists out there I say, "See ya next Sunday! Let the games begin!"


Brenda said...

That's too funny. I grew up Baptist, and I've never seen a Baptist preacher run long. I attend a Methodist church now, and the Baptists beat us out every Sunday, with the exception of our new pastor's first day. He didn't know we wouldn't mutiny if he didn't get us out by noon, so he abbreviated his sermon. Somebody clued him in the following week, and it hasn't happened since.

Nancy said...

I am unsure whether I am the "Nancy" references, but in P'ville the Methodist and Baptist shared a parking lot... In that town, the Baptists get out 30 minutes earlier, so when we met my great uncle and aunt for lunch at the CC, we had to go to "early church." Perhaps things have changed, but "back in the day" the 11:00 service was social hour and lunch the reception hall. Although exclusionary and and ridiculous, my place in the world was grounded through these experiences in childhood, so I can't knock them too much.

Susanne said...

Hilarious! I love your small town stories. I see a book in the making!