However, Rebecca Johnston’s column last week about a baptism brought this to the forefront of my mind.
Years ago when I was just a child, there were very few Sundays that I didn’t attend Chalcedonia Baptist Church.
One of the members at that time was a young lady named Beverly Carnes. Beverly was a few years older than me and was the daughter of Broughton and Ruth Lee Carnes.
Beverly was a steadfast member of the church. She also had the responsibility of cleaning the church on a regular basis. This job also gave her the responsibility of having a key to the church.
I have no doubt this was Beverly’s calling — simply to clean the church during the week so it would be ready for the next Sunday.
And the job was always done and done right. Because she took this job seriously out of the love she had for her church.
I don’t remember the year but only remember that I was a kid when one morning I heard a scream go out through the neighborhood. We didn’t have air conditioning so many times the windows would be open in the house.
The scream I heard came from the Carnes’ house, that was just below us. It was Ruth Lee Carnes who I heard screaming. Her beloved Beverly had passed away right there in their home.
Keithsburg was a small community then and everyone knew each other so word traveled fast. It would certainly pass faster today with all of the technology we have, but being in a small community, word still got around.
This young lady that loved her church so much was suddenly gone. It was an unsettling time for the young people in the church. We simply didn’t have that much experience with death.
But as I get older, it seems the first thing I read in the newspaper is the obituaries. I guess I actually do it online most of the time.
We no longer have WCHK and Byron Dobbs to announce the deaths in our community like we once did.
But according to Rocky Hendrix, who was a relative of Beverly, she was buried with her key to the church. That would have made her smile.
I guess I write this to make a point. I know of no other offices in the church Beverly may have held. I only know she was responsible for cleaning the church and she loved her job. She loved her calling.
There are many churches in our community today and many denominations. And there are many churches that are the result of a split with another church.
I doubt many of them are full every Sunday. Unfortunately politics has a way of creeping into everything. And when it does we must look out. For trouble can’t be far behind.
But imagine a church full of people like Beverly Carnes. Someone who loved doing the most menial work because she just didn’t love her church, but she truly had a relationship with her God.
There may be many of you who have no clue who cleans your church. You may even outsource that job to a private company. But even as a kid I always knew who made the church presentable for the Sunday sermon.
Beverly died at a very young age. Her death touched not only the church but also the community. I don’t know of any awards she ever won.
I know of no recognition she received for anything she did in her life. But she answered her calling and did so with love and passion.
Her being buried with a key to the church is very symbolic.
For it is people like her who truly hold the key to any church.
It’s the people who don’t mind doing the menial tasks without expectations of recognition.
It’s the people who don’t feel the need to be in charge.
For those people truly have the key to their church.
It’s not in the form of a medal, but it’s placed deeply in their hearts.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.