There are a lot of things that are very different at St. Luke’s today compared to when I received my third grade Bible. Some things, however, will never change.
I was in the third grade in 1955 when I received my Bible. The bookplate on the inside is signed by Durwood Fleming who was the senior pastor at the time. Today, third graders receive their Bibles in front of the congregation. In 1955, I recall that they were just passed out one day in Sunday School with none of the fanfare that surrounds them now. There was not a special breakfast for the third graders and their families. There was not a Bible Exploration event. But receiving my first Bible from St. Luke’s was special then and will always be a tradition that is special to the children of St. Luke’s.
When I was a child, worship was held in what is now the Fellowship Hall. This was before the construction of our current Sanctuary (which opened in September of 1959). There was a Sunday evening service that many people attended in addition to the Sunday morning service. I joined the church at one of the Sunday evening services two years after I received my third grade Bible. I, along with several others, joined wearing our choir robes because the Junior Choir sang at that service. In preparation, we attended confirmation classes after school for 6 weeks which is short compared to today’s practice of confirmation in the sixth through eighth grades. There was a wide age range in our confirmation group – I was in the fifth grade but there was every age up to 16. Over half of the children and youth who joined that day were baptized first as the practice of baptizing infants was not as common back then.
I’ve gone to church here for many years and remember gathering in the Blanton Building for Sunday School when space got tight. I remember little things like getting our Cokes from the kitchen in bottles instead of cans (while Mr. Getty the groundskeeper implored us not to spill!). I remember being asked to help with a church project, and how that invitation led to my becoming more active. As much change as this church has experienced, some fundamental things are the same.
What are some things that haven’t changed? The faith tradition that we uphold for our church’s children… the content of the Bible… learning to live and love like Jesus. That third grade Bible was my only Bible for a long time. It moved to Southern Methodist University and back home to Houston with me. Even after I acquired other copies, I kept it and have had it for 65 years now. For all the children receiving Bibles today, I hope your third grade Bible and the importance of God’s word stay with you forever.