The following story is a memory of Marilyn Bromley Forrester’s childhood as related by her younger sister, Margaret Bromley. They lived in Louisville, Kentucky in the Crescent Hill neighborhood. Their younger sister, Beverly, had not yet been born.
“Margaret, Hurry up! You must get dressed for church.” It was my mother’s voice coming from her bedroom that brought me to the reality of the day. The sun was shining and already the neighborhood was alive.
Aunt Georgie, the black woman who lived behind the house across the street was sweeping the walk and finishing her household chores before she dressed to go to her church. It was in the ‘40s and at that time in history, the black churches in the south generally began their services after noon on Sundays as the members had to help with their employers through Sunday noon dinner. When they were finished with their chores, they had the rest of the afternoon and evening free to do as they wished.
I had always wanted to go with Georgie to church because she was so happy afterwards. I had heard that they clapped and shouted “Amen” when the choir sang and the minister preached.
But I was a ‘white’ Methodist, and our church had great pride in its professional choir that sang classical religious music and a minister that always had a doctorate degree. Of course, that did not mean anything to me. I was a Methodist because everyone before me, all my ancestors for over two hundred years had been Methodists!
On this particular Sunday, my sister Marilyn and I were to join the church and be baptized as well! I was going to be one of the youngest members ever ‘taken in’ for I had made my commitment to God at age eight. Although Methodists usually baptize in infancy, my parents believed in waiting until the child could make their own decision to be baptized. Since Marilyn, who was two and one half years older, had decided to join the church and she was everything I wanted to be, I decided to join too.
The communicant classes were led by Dr. Grant, the church’s minister. He was a white haired man who looked to me to be at least eighty years old. (He actually was not ever fifty!) The lessons were all very seriously taken in that we had to memorize Bible verses, the disciples’ names, and just generally have a good knowledge of the stories in the Old and New Testaments. His last words of the last class were that we were making this commitment before God and the congregation and not to talk, giggle, or laugh when we came to the alter of the sanctuary.
All went well that Sunday that Marilyn and I were to join the church. Mother’s call had jolted me back into reality and we climbed into the car in our new Sunday best dresses and black ‘Mary Jane’ patent shoes. And we even had extra minutes to spare for the ride to church. After Sunday School, Marilyn and I gathered in the minister’s office and the entire communicants’ class filed into the sanctuary.
At the appropriate time, Dr. Grant called the class forward to the altar and began the ritual of admitting us into the “Kingdom of God”. Upon the call to baptism, Marilyn, who was next to me, and I both knelt down. Marilyn was to be baptized first. Dr. Grant put his hand into the baptismal font and cupped his hand full of water.
As he began the “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”, I looked over at Marilyn and water was running over her hair, down her face, over her nose, and onto her shoulders!
I began to giggle. I couldn’t stop! No matter that Dr. Grant’s last words before entering the worship service were ‘not to laugh’! Marilyn caught my mirth and to this day, I guess you can say that we both entered the Kingdom of God with more than a smile on our faces. I think that God probably liked that, but old Dr. Grant didn’t! "