Faithfulness and Frigidaire

Fernwood Baptist Church celebrated 50 years of ministry in Spartanburg, S.C., on Sunday. It was my pleasure to share in that grand occasion.

I joked with them about moving my membership there since “apparently churches in this area welcome non-resident members.” Most seemed to get and enjoy the reference to famed evangelist Billy Graham of Montreat, N.C., recently joining the First Baptist Church of Spartanburg — just down the road from Fernwood.

My blogging partner, Dr. Tony Cartledge, made a good case for membership and involvement in a local congregation in a recent blog.

His blog and the larger conversation about Graham’s church membership — which had been at First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, for decades — reminded me of a story.

Several years ago, I sat in on a conversation former President Jimmy Carter had with students at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Church involvement somehow came up in the conversation.

President Carter told how he was in Atlanta shortly after being elected governor of Georgia and paid a visit to a woman from Plains who was hospitalized there. It was part of his duties as a deacon at Plains Baptist Church (where he and Mrs. Carter were members before Maranatha Baptist Church was formed).

The woman asked President Carter what church they planned to join in Atlanta after their move. He told her they planned to keep their membership in Plains.

“When you move your refrigerator, you’re supposed to move your church membership,” the woman said in a matter-of-fact manner.

I doubt President and Mrs. Carter literally moved a refrigerator to the Governor’s Mansion. But he said they did heed her advice.

They found the closest Baptist congregation — Northside Drive Baptist Church — and joined. He became a Sunday school teacher.

Later, after winning the White House, the Carters joined the First Baptist Church in the City of Washington where he again taught Sunday school.

His perspective on local church membership came from a fellow church member from Plains who connected faithfulness with Frigidaire.


  1. I got voted out of the congregation where my Mother was Baptized circa 1936.
    I got voted out, and then off the property May 28 or so 2006 by a vote of 32-20. If I coulda turned seven votes I could still go to funerals, weddings, what not and sing hymns of the Christian faith where I was active in the choir for good long time.
    Five women refused to meet with after getting deacons on my heels. One of their complaints was I left choir practice early. I think the base of their resentments stimulated from an event I had at the church featuring David Currie, Kat Allen and Mark Bagget.
    Local librarian and I got on the outs. Her Dad’s name is on the cornerstone of the church as is the Grandfather of one of my best friends in the area.
    She now serves on a state library committee with former head of the CBF in the state.
    If President Carter could over and help resovle my situation I sure would appreciate it.
    The Pastor’s oldest son and daughter in law work with Habitat in Americus and are big fans of his.
    Little Baptist History about church membership at the grassroots Ithough I’d share as the church is only three miles away from house and Momma’s family goes back 160 years.

  2. I forgot:

    My High school typing teacher was in the congregation I’m sure there at Fernwood Sunday. She commutes from Gaffney.
    Proud of both of you.

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