I could almost hear that call to open a lock as a canal boat was being pulled through with a cargo of product or people navigating into the Southern Ohio Valley. But wait we were in church with a history of its own!
And Sunday that was at Bethany Baptist Church in Rushtown, Ohio located in a walk path of the Old Erie Canal! For 2 to 4 cents a mile one could travel via canal. Today though this is where a strong family of Scioto County believers attend!
The “how’s and why’s” of how we got into this journey to attend Scioto County Ohio churches is no longer significant. What we learn weekly is that there are many styles of worship that have developed and we have loved them all. Sometimes Beverly and I discuss that we feel to have been led here today. But that happens every week we make a visit, so it seems.
Being this was Memorial Day weekend my first thoughts as Pastor Al Owens called the congregation to rise for the Pledge of Alegiance was to stand up and cheer. I refrained! But then they did a pledge to the Christian Flag and lastly a pledge to the Bible. So later I learned they do this every week. I could have walked away happily and called it an amazing day at church. But we had just begun! And now I’m watching a number of my friends reporting their early life attending Bethany Baptist Church! Names like Pertuset Jordan, Murphys, Emnetts, Kirkendalls, Boldman’s and more are long familiar. Al Owen’s wife Kathy attended Ohio University Portsmouth at the time I did. That was certainly a while back but not forgotten.
Following the pledges there was a walk around greeting which introduced us to many we hadn’t already spoke with and there were familiar faces and voices in my past! All this to a lady playing one of those great hymns, “When that roll is called up yonder”!
And then I felt right at home when the Pastor quoted Ted Cruz and referred to WW2 hero Audie Murphy. I thought it can’t get any better than this?
The Pastor explained the Korean War as a war sometimes forgotten having started on June 25, 1950. He then told several war interest stories. Then during the offering there was the song, “Wonderful story of love.” Following that was another old hymn, “Sweet hour of Prayer.”
Pastor Owens quoted Proverbs 10:7. Also he said that a soldier’s grave marker is a memorial to freedom and should not be forgotten. He went on to say that the word “memorial” is used 32 times in the King James version of the Bible. Such memorials remind us that freedom isn’t free. Whereafter he read a poem, “Freedom isn’t free.
He also said, “ under the providence of God we remain free and enjoy the benefits of liberty bought with the precious blood of our sons, daughter’s, fathers and mothers in military combat”. Today we need to ask, “what kind of freedom did they die for?”
They died for freedom tempered with responsibility. Our leaders need to know that freedom does not mean that anything goes or that everything is acceptable. He said, there is a responsibility for protection from our enemies, responsibility to do right and good for our society, responsibility to hammer out legislation that is just and fair to all without permitting the preference of a few to dominate the will of many, and responsibility to preserve the liberties guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States. Included here are freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom to bear arms. There is the responsibility to correctly interpret the Constitution, preserving its original intent. Americans have died for freedom seasoned with restraint and common sense. They died for freedom under God.
Our nation was founded on Godly principles that work. Our country was grounded on faith in almighty God and our earliest historical documents confirm that to any but the blind and deceitful. Our nation was founded on freedom granted by God!
Inspiring and sad was the story that Pastor Owens shared about his father who was killed in WW2 two months before the birth of his twin sister and himself. Another brother was fourteen months old at the time. On December 11 1944 near the Phillipines, Japanese kamakazes struck the USS Reid, sinking and killing all of the American naval personnel on board. What a hard time this must have been for him, his mother and family.
At one point Pastor Owens pointed out the story about a foreign lady who had just received citizenship. She reportedly said, “you Americans don’t know what you have. Stand up and protect it!”
He pointed out that freedom to bear arms is under attack. He said that when the communists disarmed Hungarians, they walked in and toppled the Government without a shot.
In his closing comments he said that Jesus came in flesh to die on the cross making the Lord Jesus Christ available to all who will believe. Let us remember that the greatest freedom of all is freedom from the bondage of sin.
Corey Ten Boom, Jewish survivor from the Holocaust who helped save many during that hour of darkness had said, “you can tie my arms but not my spirit”! In the church bulletin a Romans 5:8 thought for the day said, “but God commandeth his love toward us, in that, while we are yet sinners, Christ died for us”. Another thought for the day was: “To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to have died. Thomas Campbell
There was another old familiar hymn, “Just as I am”. Looking about the room lovely stain glass windows highlight much of the history that is part of this church.
As we walked back outside I was sure the canal boats would be coming through but I know that is but a thought and spirit of that time coming through my mind giving a glimpse of how it might have been.
God bless, see ya in church.
Reach Randy Rucker at Ohiorancher5@gmail.com.