The Ten Mile Missionary Baptist Church was organized in 1873. The Church took its name from the Ten Mile Creek that ran through the woods nearby. Today, Ten Mile Missionary Baptist Church thrives in a beautiful modern facility but it is the memory of the old church that haunts my dreams. It was my grandparents church and I attended my first services their when I was a few weeks old. For a kid mostly raised in the city my trips to Ten Mile were always an adventure and the site of some of my first and fondest memories.
In my early days the only air current at Ten Mile Baptist Church on a July Sunday was generated by Mamaw’s oscillating wrist and a popsicle stick fan. The windows were left open and one had to develop a degree of faith just to ignore the constantly marauding red wasp. In the winter time a black wood burning cast iron stove was move to the front of the church and the oldest deacon I have ever seen sat on the from pew just to keep it properly stoked. The only running water came from a hand pump well out in front of the church. That water was cold as ice and somehow it tasted a little better when you had to pump it. Since there was no running water there were no bathrooms inside the church and members had to go to the bathroom in an outhouse. This was not the kind of one-stall outhouse depicted in old movies this was a tin shed built directly over a septic tank with several stalls. It was snaky and filled with wasp. I, like most of the men and boys preferred to use the woods out behind the shed. It was a brave man or woman in a bind that entered the outhouse at Ten Mile Baptist Church, it still scares me just to think about it.
My Papaw was a deacon and one of the leaders in the church. I was always very proud to be his grandson. We sat up close to the front. My Mamaw always had a choice of gum for us kids, Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit, Spearmint, or Doublemint. I was a Juicy Fruit guy myself but I would chew anything if it came from Mamaw’s big black purse. I really never care for gum that much unless it came from Mamaw’s purse.
I have so many memories of Ten Mile but my fondest memory is of going with my Papaw and Mamaw to “Singing.” They used the word as a noun. We were not going singing we were going to singing. I remember Papaw at the door every Sunday night calling, “come on Mamaw, we are going to miss singing.” Mamaw would holler back just hold your horses. Now, at Ten Mile a singing was where most everyone showed up early for church, one person stood up, picked a hymn, and then led the group in singing that hymn. Then someone else would take a turn. You did not need to have a good voice to go to singing, just a voice, a love for the Lord and a love for the old hymns. The Old Rugged Cross, Rock Of Ages, Sweet Hour Of Prayer, one after another we worked our way through the old Baptist Hymnal until it was time to start the service, then we finished with one final hymn, often it was Amazing Grace.
When I think about my Papaw and Mamaw and Ten Mile Baptist Church I get a lump in my throat. I can almost hear my Papaw singing “Amazing grace, how sweet, the sound that saves a wretch like me…”
I was a witness to the faith of my parents and grandparents and in time I would feel the calling of the Holy Spirit and accept Christ as my savior. I believe with all my heart that by the amazing grace of Jesus Christ that when the role is called up yonder I will see my Papaw and Mamaw again and I will join them at a heavenly singing.