I grew up in blue-collar Free Will Baptist churches where our worship music consisted mostly of congregational singing, accompanied by a pianist (usually my mother). We sang traditional hymns. To us, “traditional hymns” meant gospel songs like “When We All Get to Heaven” and “Blessed Assurance.” Our “liturgy” was three congregational songs and maybe a “special” while offering baskets were passed. It was only as an adult that I learned that traditional hymns meant different types of songs to different types of churches and that “special” was not really a noun. Although I haven’t been part of a Free Will Baptist church in almost 20 years, I am eternally grateful for this heritage.
I grew up and married a Southern Baptist girl and even worked for the Southern Baptist publishing house. People used to ask me what the difference was between Southern Baptists and Free Will Baptists. Well, one difference is that when Southern Baptists from all over the nation get together in the summer, they call it the “convention;” when Free Will Baptists convene in the summer, they call it the “national.”… Isn’t that special?
The National starts tomorrow in Memphis, TN. Godspeed, friends. Work it out.