The Youngest Member


Image Description: A beam of light shines in from a window, and there are particles of dust in the light. There is also a wooden door with a metal handle. Public Domain image.

In my early elementary school years, I was the youngest member of a small Southern Baptist Church.

After the Vacation Bible School summer when I “accepted Jesus into my heart,” I was baptized at the ripe old age of 6. This is a very young age for a growing Southern Baptist to be baptized. On the day of that baptism, I remember getting scolded for climbing a tree on the church property before the worship service began. They didn’t want me to get my white dress dirty. But I suppose this is what happens when you make a kindergartner your youngest member.

And I really was the youngest… member. As I mentioned above, this was a small Southern Baptist Church, and since they had a commission to grow (from Jesus even!) they always seemed to have a complex about how small they were.

When we had business meetings, the whole congregation would gather to vote, and sometimes, I, the youngest member who didn’t give a flip about paying the bills or the next new idea to grow the church, would have to stop playing in the foyer and come sit in the meeting because they needed one more member to make a quorum. Harrumph.

But when I think about my very early days in that very small church, I also remember a sense of rest and belonging. In a seminary class nearly twenty years later, a professor asked us to write down all the sense memory details we could recall from one of our earliest memories of worship. Mine was from this church. I remember lying down on a pew, not sitting, but lying down and cuddling. My head was resting on of the pillows they kept for children, and that pillow was on my Mom’s lap. And I remember hearing the words of the Epistle to the Romans while curiously watching dust particles move around in a beam of light that was coming through one of the windows.

Later in life, my theology would depart from these roots. The other members of the quorum probably didn’t know they were raising a young girl to be a preacher, and very likely, they wouldn’t have approved of that in the end.

But in that beginning, I was the youngest member. I belonged, and I rested.

Renee Roederer

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