"Which church should we attend?"

In 1947, when I was seven and my brother, Dale, was four, my parents decided to start going to church. Sunday school would be good for their children.

But which church should they attend?

My father, Charles Henry Davison, had attended the Methodist church as a boy, but he felt no particular loyalty to that denomination.

My mother, Bessie Inez Kincaid, had attended the Christian Church, and had been baptized into Christ as a teenager. After she left home, however, her parents, Charles and Pearl Kincaid, left the Christian Church and became members of the Central Church of Christ in Saint Louis, Missouri.

After some discussion, my parents decided to visit the Christian Church and the Church of Christ. I remember those visits well.

We lived at Clinton, Maryland near Washington, D.C. where my father was an electronics technician with the Naval Research Laboratory.

We first visited the National City Christian Church at 5 Thomas Circle in Washington, DC. It was a congregation of almost 2000 members. I remember the impressive building with its large columns like a Greek temple. But most of all, I remember the steps! There are 31 stone steps from the street up to the door. There was no handrail. It was scary! I would need to be very careful on those steps! If I fell, I might tumble all the way down to the bottom and really hurt myself!

The Sunday school classes were putting on a big pageant for the parents that day. So my brother and I were put on two chairs in the corner of the classroom while the other children put on their costumes. One boy was dressed like a Roman soldier and had a wooden sword. The whole class then filed out into the auditorium and took seats at the front. The teacher told us that when the other children got up to go on stage, we should just stay in our seats, since we would not know what to do. I remember feeling very lonely and conspicuous after the others got up. Dale and I sat alone in the midst of all those empty seats. During the worship service, I noticed that the preacher wore special clothes. It looked like he had his collar on backwards.

The next Sunday we visited the Anacostia Church of Christ (in 1952 the name was changed to the Southeast Church of Christ when they built their own building). It had less than a hundred members and met in a rented lodge hall. The building was used for dancing on Saturday nights, so someone had to come early on Sunday morning to sweep up the broken beer bottles and open the windows to air the place out.

My brother and I had an interesting Bible class, and I remember how nice the singing sounded. The people were friendly and made us feel like long-lost friends.

Can you guess which congregation my parents decided to attend? They were zealous and attended all the services and Bible studies. Although my father came from a denominational background, he thought he was a Christian. He had been immersed when he was a teenager, so he thought his baptism was valid.

A gospel meeting was held shortly thereafter and my father went up and down our street inviting people to attend. During that meeting, he was baptized for the remission of his sins (Acts 2:38). The clear preaching of the gospel caused him to realize that his previous immersion was not valid, and that he actually was not yet a Christian.

When he was a teenager, his mother had told him he was old enough to join the church. He asked how he was supposed to do that, and she told him to talk to the preacher. When my father heard the true gospel preached during that meeting, he realized that his previous immersion was just to please his mother and to join the Methodist Church, not to put on Christ (Galatians 3:26).

My father wanted to preach. He had always tried to do what was right, but he simply did not know what was right. He thought there were probably others like that too, and he wanted to help them.

He quit his government job and studied at Freed-Hardeman and at the Bible Chair at Eastern New Mexico University where he earned a BS degree in Physics and Bible.

Working as an electronics technician, he supported himself as a preacher during most of his life. He preached full-time for a while at Soccoro, New Mexico, and he established a new congregation at Fargo, North Dakota. For many years he would close his TV repair business for two months during the summer so he and my mother could help small congregations in the northern United States as vacation Bible school teachers.

My mother went to her reward in 1982. After my father remarried, he and his new wife, Yvonne, made several trips to Ukraine to teach Bible classes in English. In 1995 Dad made his last trip to Ukraine at the age of 81. He went to be with the Lord in 1996.

That seven-year-old boy, who was afraid of falling down the stone steps of that neoclassic building, and who -- like his parents -- greatly preferred the friendly congregation with the beautiful singing, has now been preaching the gospel in the Dutch-speaking part of Europe for more than 40 years.

Roy Davison

Published in The Old Paths Archive