Posts Tagged ‘soul food’

Soul Food

By Jeannie Dortch.

At least once a year, one or more members from Richmond’s First Baptist Church family gives his or her testimony of tithing, a habit of giving 10% of one’s annual income, usually patterned after an example set in their homes as children. My desire to tithe, however, grew out of a rich association with members of FBC and an appreciation for the Bible’s teachings that I had never learned at home. This is my story:

My mother grew up on the only road that led to the town cemetery. It was common for her to watch the hearse drive past her door taking a corpse to the graveyard. As a result, she developed a fear of death that grew to extend to a distrust of the Bible because of its many references to death.

My father’s religion was golf. So, attending Sunday school and church was a winter activity for our family because our car was driven to the links on fair weather weekends. We never read or discussed the Bible at home, and prayers were only offered at our annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Suffice it to say that in our home, the idea of tithing was never taught and certainly not caught by example. I am thankful that my formative years were spent in the 1950s and 60s, a time when children were exposed to church because it was expected. Very few things vied for families’ attention on Sundays with businesses closed. I can remember enjoying the services, and even walking to church by myself as a teenager. I have always had a curiosity and yearning to learn more about the Bible.

My husband’s religious training started on FBC’s cradle roll, but he hadn’t attended in years when we married in 1968. FBC never lost track of him, however, so when our daughter was four years old, we received a home visit from Katie’s Sunday school teacher inviting her to visit Sunday school. She was thrilled. The Sunday morning I took her, I decided to visit an adult class while waiting for Katie’s class to finish, and, that was where I met Buddy Hamilton and his small class of Christians. They embraced me as one of their own, becoming Jesus with skin on for the next many years! Each week, I would tell Jeff what I had learned to his skepticism and retorts, but his questions propelled me back to Buddy’s class to gather more answers to take home to share. Eight years passed before Jeff decided to attend church, and two more before he visited Sunday school.

While slowly learning to give our hearts to Jesus, we gained mentors in the faith whose example we wanted to follow. There have been so many FBC saints who helped us learn to pray, to volunteer, to lead, to teach, to give back with our bodies, minds, and souls and also with our money. We are grateful for each and every one of them and have been richly blessed by their presence in our lives.

soul food
Recently, Jim Somerville commented that we all need a faith that we can live with and die with. For me, that directive indicates a need to tithe. Some people emphasize the tangible rewards gained from tithing, but I believe the beauty of tithing is found in the giving itself. Tithing is like one-stop-shopping with the comfort of knowing that so many worthy causes that the church supports are covered by my gift with no need for me to research or worry about the legitimacy of the cause. Each week after the offering plates are passed, one of the ministers reminds us of yet another wonderful event, ministry, mission trip, organization, or association to which my dollars have been applied. More satisfying than the finest meal, I like to think of tithing as soul food!

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