The traveling church of Elsie

Somewhere near 1935, a stubborn and somewhat fearless girl of eighteen was sent from England to live with family in Toronto, Canada. Her hair pulled back into a bun and her chin lifted high, she showed an indomitable spirit. Upon arriving in Canada, her view of the world changed little and she married a preacher twenty years her senior. She traveled about Canada with him living literally hand to mouth bringing the word of God to any that would have them. It was a very difficult life and somehow they continued on without waver. They endured cabin fever winters in Saskatchewan and the upper reaches of Canada until their travels brought them to British Columbia some twenty five years after their marriage began. By this time they had two children and it was necessary to find a suitable place to settle down. Her husband began to co-pastor a church in the area and life began to resemble that of other tradesmen only their trade dealt with the things of God and not of men and labor. In time, her husband began to age and Elsie had to take over more of his pastoral duties and fashion a future for herself and her children. This was a period of Pentecost in the American churches and one could tune in the television and hear preachers such as Oral Roberts speak in tongues on national T.V. Elsie and her aged husband had been baptized by the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues and had the gift of prophecy. Elsie grew in confidence as she opened her mouth in faith and uttered God’s direction and comfort to eager listeners. In the 1960's as the Hippie culture grew, along with the fears of nuclear annihilation and open rebellion, Elsie found her way to Seattle and a job as co-pastor of an influential black congregation. The many disillusioned and long haired youth of the area began to come to church and found hope in the words spoken there. Many of them cut their hair, found jobs and became a part of the congregation. It was a growing church in it’s influence in the community, in it’s effect on the local youth, and within it’s coffers. Life was very good. At the peak of its success, Elsie’s daughter came up pregnant. When she named her Mother’s co-pastor as the father, the church was quickly split in two. Some would not believe that this strong Christian, a married black man, would father a child with this young white girl. There was a strong wave of angst as the church tore in two and Elsie left with her portion of followers to start a new venture. A wave of evangelism skipping the way back east. Only this time, through the United States, leaving Canada as the calling of her youth.

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