The Brookfield Baptist Church was in shambles. It wasn’t caused by natural disasters like tornados or brush fires. Instead, it was destruction of a spiritual nature and it came to light last Sunday morning.
Pastor Tom McCafferty stood behind the pulpit, tears streaming down his face, as he admitted to having an affair with Maribeth Olson, the organist. Poor Maribeth slouched behind the organ, her mouth hanging open in horror. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head. A couple of the church elders threw sideways glances at her, wondering if there might be more than one reason why Maribeth was hiding behind that organ long before anyone arrived at services on Sunday mornings.
Augusta Meriwether sat all prim and proper on the front row. Many hoped he might marry her some day. What could have happened to Pastor Tom that made him forsake Augusta for the spinster Maribeth?
During the week that followed vicious rumors flitted along Main Street, through the Downtown Diner, and then swirled around the Curly-Q Beauty Shop. Over at Dan’s Automotive, Stan, the new mechanic, just couldn’t seem to stick to the same story twice. It was a jumbled mess by week’s end. With Sunday quickly approaching, Elder Aubrey Woolsey knew he had to intervene.
Woolsey had presided over the deacon board for nearly fifty years. While pastors had come and gone, he had guided the flock through transitions, heartaches, and celebrations. He was a born leader, spirit-led and humble.
Saturday night an all-member meeting was held in the Fellowship Hall of the Brookfield Baptist Church. Elder Woolsey presided. Secretary Sarah Sutton took the minutes of the meeting. The other three elders—Bob Parsons, Marvin Ellinwood, and Dan Lockhart—sat facing the church members. Pastor Tom was beside them, his eyes downcast. From her bench, Maribeth drummed out a familiar refrain on the pipe organ.
As members filed in and found seats, whisperings ensued and disapproving cluck-clucks erupted from certain parts of the sanctuary.
At seven o’clock sharp, Elder Woolsey stood and raised his arms for quiet. The hush rippled back across the pews until it settled on Marcella Boothe—the matron of the back row.
“Thank you. I have called this special membership meeting to bring order to our congregation and to uplift Pastor Tom and Ms. Olson. First order of business is to pray. Please bow your heads and prepare your hearts to approach the throne of grace. For those of you who are able, I ask that you kneel as well.”
With eyes closed and heads bowed, many members found a way to slip to the oaken plank floor, amid creaking knees.
Elder Woolsey cleared his throat, removed his spectacles. His craggy voice rang out with authority. “Lord, we here at the Brookfield Baptist Church come before you this evening as a body broken. Many of us have sinned. We are in need of Your healing through the Holy Spirit. Come, Lord. Please come. Meet us in this place right now.”
Woolsey took a breath. Suddenly a rush of air burst through the open windows. Glass shattered to the floor and Martha Jean Monroe shot to her feet. Her hands were raised in praise. Her eyes welled up in tears. “Preach it, Brother Woolsey. The Holy Spirit has joined us. He has come to proclaim His marvelous works among us. Paul said, ‘But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.’”*
“Preach it, Sister Martha Jean.”
Wailing ensued from Elder Lockhart of Dan’s Automotive, but he soon recovered and stood up to move closer to Pastor Tom. Elder Woolsey’s head nodded in quiet understanding. A thin smile played upon his lips.
Elder Lockhart raised an oil-stained hand to silence the congregation and then turned a head to the organ.
“Please join Pastor Tom and me up here, won’t you Sister Maribeth?”
Lockhart laid hands on the repentant couple and prayed for healing and restoration. Members affirmed the prayer.
There wasn’t a dry eye at the Brookfield Baptist Church that Saturday evening as the words of the Apostle Paul rang in their hearts, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (I Corinthians 12:7, NASB)
*I Corinthians 12:24b-26 (NASB)
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