Remembering – Part 24

Garner saw everything and was obviously displeased. Not that he castigated us. We could handle that. We enjoyed pastors who scolded us for our sins. We tolerated, even enjoyed his paternalistic diatribes. No, Garner did the intolerable: he wept. Right in the middle of morning worship, right where great preachers like Muzon Mann had labored, where our children were baptized, Garner wept! Right in the middle of morning worship, as if it was part of the liturgy, he started crying! Not loud, uncontrollable sobs, but quiet, deep crying. Old Man Henley, senile and almost deaf, remembering the last time he cried–when his wife died–started crying too. And then the children started.

My cousin Ronny, our organist, sensing Brother Garners impropriety, judiciously played the last hymn.
How we hated Palmer Garner! If we ever doubted, Garner was obviously an outsider to our community . . .

Brother Garner did not last the year. The Bishop moved him to an obscure church in North Arkansas, as close as possible to Massachusetts.

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