country church

First Presbyterian had changed their outside sign on Route 45 twenty-five years ago to read: “Truckers: Turn off your CBs on Sunday between 8 am and 12 pm.” Members of other denominations joked around town the Presbyterians were “destined” to change the sign. Most believed the message was silly because the truckers never slowed until after the first traffic light and wouldn’t have time to read the sign and follow the commandment. Before the Presbyterians changed the sign, people had enjoyed their creative messages: “The best thing in life aren’t things”, “Walmart’s not the only saving place”, “God’s last name isn’t damn”, or “God wants full custody—not just weekend visits.”

It certainly wasn’t a crime the truckers talked on their CB radios, and it wasn’t their fault that CB conversations were picked up on the badly-wired PA system at First Presbyterian. The first time they heard CB talk was during a prayer. Father Donald had prayed, “May the good Lord bestow many blessings on each you”, but before he finished, they heard, “Breaker 1-9. Is there a choke and puke in this minute of a town?” Afterward, some parishioners thought Donald might have multiple personalities or a strange sense of humor, but those were the ones who weren’t praying, or listening, to the minister. Others knew somehow the PA system had picked up a trucker’s CB radio.

The volunteer IT person for the church worked at an independent electronics store, which was on life support because of conglomerates in the nearby hub city, couldn’t figure out what the issue was and told Father Donald he hoped the new message on the sign worked.

The following Sunday, however, it did not. Midway through communion somewhere between the bread of life and cup of salvation, the congregation heard, “Any Kojaks with Kodaks?” Some of the crowd giggled, but some of the older parishioners shook their heads. They had no idea the trucker was asking for any policemen with radar gun itching to catch a trucker on a deadline. The one positive was that responses could only be heard within a block or so of the church, so most of the PA interruptions were one-sided. The last one they heard during the final prayer of the service was “Ms. Piggy’s in the hen house”, code for a female police officer is running radar.

One of the older parishioners, who was also one of the most financially dedicated, told Father Donald he’d find someone who could repair the PA system. Father Donald hoped he could. Last time he got involved, he’d said the younger crowd would come back if they added more contemporary music and changed to casual dress. They hadn’t returned and First Presbyterian’s numbers continued to decline.

The non-denominational megachurch, however, had continued to expand, not by saving more souls, but by stealing them from others and Father Donald wondered if it was another sign.

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