Church Culture in Mid-Century Fresno

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Church Culture in Mid-Century Fresno

Post by Scott-o-rama » Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:55 pm

This topic is not about religion. We will not discuss matters of faith or theology here. Nor will there be any evangelizing, witnessing, or putting down people of any faith. Such discussions can be contentious and divisive, and in any event are probably not appropriate for a forum like this.

Rather, this topic will be about the cultural effects our various communities of faith had on us during our pre-adult years.

Today, it seems that overall fewer people regularly attend church/synagogue/mosque/temple than did 50-70 years ago. But back in the early ‘60s, my family attended both Sunday school and Church services just about every Sunday. Then, we would be back at the church Sunday evenings for youth group meetings. (cute girls!) Every Wednesday evening there was our all church dinner at the church, for which my mom was the head cook. On Thursday evenings we were back at the church again, for choir practice. We played softball with our church team at least one night per week during the spring and summer months. Then, there were church ‘socials’ at the church every month or two, as well as church ‘retreats’ out of town maybe 3 or 4 weekends per year. Finally, there were church board meetings, committee meetings and so on.

Looking back, it blows my mind just how wrapped up our lives were in church activities. My brothers and I attended public schools and we were involved in school sports, musical, and theatrical activities. But, it seems we were always doing church stuff as much as school stuff. We had overlapping sets of friends from school, church, little league, scouts and so on. Our girlfriends and best guy friends were as likely to be from church as from school.

As you can see, this “church culture” had its claws into us pretty deep! One of my brothers won’t set foot in a church anymore, and he likes to say it’s because he had so much church crammed down his throat when he was young.

I’ll bet there are a bunch of you out there who had super churchy childhoods like mine. Under this topic I envision posts about subtopics including, but not limited to:

-- Church Camp Adventures (at Sequoia Lake, Mount Herman, or wherever)
-- Church Softball Teams (Who remembers the names of the parks where we played, and what other church teams we played against?)
-- When churches would swap pastors and choirs one Sunday per year during “National Brotherhood Week”
-- The incredible musical education we got from singing in church
-- Treading gently with the straight-laced parents of the girl or guy from church who you were dating, knowing any misstep would probably get back to your own parents ….


Re: Church Culture in Mid-Century Fresno

Post by Guest » Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:03 pm

When I was a kid in the early 1960s, our white downtown church exchanged pastors and choirs a few times with The Second Baptist Church, a black congregation on the west side of town. As my parents were in the choir, I attended those services at the Baptist church.
Life was really segregated back then, and that was the first time I had ever been in a room with so many black folks. I was enthralled!
In our church, nobody would ever dare “speak up” during the pastor’s sermon. And so, I was sorta shocked when I heard these Baptists spouting “Amen” and “Halleluia.” I especially remember one lady who would stand up and scream out “Dats da truth!”
Hey, maybe they should bring back National Brotherhood Week!


Re: Church Culture in Mid-Century Fresno

Post by Guest » Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:41 pm

I know it sounds like an old country song, but ... Uncle sang bass, daddy sang tenor, mama sang alto, and auntie sang soprano. Together they often sang quartets for services at our church in Fresno.

As 5 and 6 year-olds, cousin Jackie and I would hang around clinging to one singer or another while they rehearsed around the piano. I discovered that if I put one ear up to any of their hips or shoulders I could hear a clear delineation between one voice and the others. This was my early and priceless education in musical harmony — singing in parts.

To this day, I find very few people who can instantly and spontaneously find multiple harmony parts in just about any song — but I can, and I firmly believe it’s because of all the singing I heard in church when I was a kid

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