Thursday, March 27, 2008
The Preacher’s Corner
There are many ways to misspell Presbyterian
We have been having some work done on our pipe organ, and the repairman had alerted me to watch for an express delivery of a part he needed to complete the project. As we were paying a fairly substantial hourly rate, I took note and watched carefully for the delivery, and as fate would have it, I pulled up to the church just as the delivery person was walking back to his truck with a package in his hand.
“Oops!” I thought. “He’s leaving with our box because there was nobody to sign for the delivery.”
So I pulled my car ahead of the truck and hopped out to flag down the driver before he could make his escape.
There was no need to worry. The driver saw me and explained his dilemma. “I have a package addressed to your street number,” he said. “But the shipment is labeled for First Baptist Church.” He went on to say that he’d run by First Baptist and they said the box was not for them. After a quick inspection, I saw that the parcel was indeed for our pipe organ man, and I signed for it, breathing a sigh of relief.
Why had the organ company substituted the word Baptist for Presbyterian? A slip of the pen, a mishap of the mind? The fact that, since there are many more Baptists, there must be many more shipments to Baptist churches? Who knows? But for a few letters difference, our organ repairman would have to spend the weekend in Holly Springs, while he waited for a second attempted delivery!
My theory on such things is that some people simply cannot spell Presbyterian. Of course, the word Baptist can be, and is, commonly spelled with two b’s. But having said that, there are many more ways to misspell my church’s name. Once in the days when information about religious affiliation could not be asked of students attending state institutions of higher learning, the entering class at Auburn University spelled the word Presbyterian 17 different ways! — and this from students who ostensibly claimed our church! Well, as least the freshmen English instructors (if not the Auburn Presbyterian Church’s Sunday school teachers) were given a good place to begin.
The incident reminded me of a tale our treasurer likes to tell, of the time he received a bill from a local store, addressed to the Presbyterian Church. Our treasurer, who is exceedingly careful with the Lord’s money, recognized the signature of the person charging the item as a loyal member of our local Christ Episcopal Parish, and so phoned the store’s bookkeeper to inquire if the invoice to us was indeed correct. “Oh my goodness,” exclaimed the bookkeeper. “I forgot to write down the church name when she purchased that item! But I knew it was one of those churches whose name begins with a P.” Our ’piscopal friends have never stopped laughing!
Musing on these memories, I walked toward the church door with my package for the organ man, and as I went I met one of my ‘piscopal friends, out for her afternoon walk. She, too, had conversed with the delivery man — having encountered him when he first pulled up to the curb, and so was aware of his situation. She said once an out-of-town florist confessed to having trouble spelling the word Episcopal, and that the florist had marked the card for delivery in Holly Springs to “The Especial Church.” My friend thought it a rather a nice way to misspell a church’s name, if a misspelling has to occur.
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