Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

“On time, by God! Nine O’clock Sunday School” by Erwin A. Thompson

Another tale from the Riehlife series: Pop on Mondays. --Janet

"On time, by God! Nine O'clock Sunday School"
by Erwin A. Thompson

I was born in 1915. When I was seven years old, we started going to the Melville Congregational Church. The "we" being my Uncle George Gibbens, his wife, Emma Riehl Gibbens, and myself.

Uncle George had gone to college to prepare to be a minister. But in his studies he had found warnings of potential divisions in the church. Shurtleff College, where he had attended, had insisted on ordaining him as a Baptist minister. Uncle George wanted to minister to anyone who wanted to be ministered unto. He refused the ordination.

But he devoted his life (in my opinion) to being a true Christian. Uncle Georg soon became the Sunday School Superintendent, and did a great job. As he got older he "slacked off" a bit, and helped younger people assume that responsibility. Eugene Huckstuhl became the Sunday School Superintendent.

The problem that I found was that instead of starting Sunday School at nine, the starting time seemed to get later each week.

This starting time was governed arbitrarily by the arrival of the piano player, who lived across the road. She was good. It seemed that everyone simply accepted her tardiness and adjusted their schedule to it.

I believe I was nineteen. Eugene liked to go to Florida in the winters. So. They had recently elected me to the doubtful honor of being Assistant Sunday School Superintendent. I determined that if Sunday School was supposed to start at nine o'clock, that is when it should start.

I had gone to grade school with Curt Sherman. He took the responsibility of building the fires.

Louis Veltjes played the piano. Not to the standards of Lydia Collins, but the old familiar hymns could easily be recognized.

The three of us got together and decided that Sunday School should start at nine. Curt built the fire, Louis at the piano, while I stood in the appropriate place to begin.

Reactions varied, depending on the people. Some told me (very nicely as a friend) that I was offending important people.

To give Lydia full credit, she came in late and sat out in the audience. I talked to her later and we came to a friendly agreement that we would start on time. Whenever she arrived, the pianists smoothly changed. It worked!

The rest of that winter, Sunday School started at nine.

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