Colton Church Procession
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13. Colton Church Procession

Bishop Gooden Home

Bishop Gooden HomeBrimming with enthusiasm, I arrived for the church Procession in the Colton Church, California. However, I soon discovered that the Vicar and Parish Committee was not keen on having a revival! The Warden, Chuck Weidman, who was also the Operational manager of the Bank of America, questioned me intensively, "How much will the mission cost?" His steely eyes betrayed that I needed to choose my words carefully. "The Dean," I replied precisely, "has given us a blank check for this mission!"

Silent Witness

Procession of PeopleAfter a moment's startled silence, a broad grin spread across Chuck's face, and he retorted, "Then what's stopping us" As a start, we suggested holding a church procession as a silent witness the evening of the first service. Some of the planning group, however, were mildly shocked at the thought. One middle-aged man became tired of our endless haggling but retained his sense of humor. He hustled us out of our seats and led us, pied piper style, in a parade around the back of the church. Marching us about singing, "Onward Christian Soldiers," in his croaking base voice seemed to break the ice. The procession was reluctantly agreed and allowed to go on.

Colton Parish March

Procession behind the CrossThe Holy Spirit began a new work in Colton Church with the Colton parish march. On the afternoon of the walk, the Vicar of Colton called me into his office. He was a giant of a man and towered over me. He thrust a neatly written letter into my hand with the words, "We've got to call it off!" "Episcopalians," it read, "do not do things like this. It is not dignified to parade our religion down the streets. It will ruin the church in Colton. I beg you to cancel it!" Reading these words made me more determined than ever. Without a moment's hesitation, I vowed, "I consider this march like an appointment with God! We can't call it off any more than we could call off a celebration of holy communion!" On the day of the Colton Parish march, a sprightly ninety-years-old Bishop Gooden came early and became excited as he watched us preparing. Chuck Weidman, the Warden at Colton, paraded the Cross in front with our robed choir and people processing behind. The stately and dearly loved Bishop Gooden, with his shepherd's staff in hand, smiled and waved to the crowds as he passed by. "When I'm among the people out of doors, I feel I'm doing the work of an Apostle," he confided later. "Our quiet witness with the Cross of Christ through town can touch sinners' hearts. It is what we become through Christ, not what we do ourselves that matter."

Touch Sinners Hearts

Processional CrossGod blessed the Colton Parish march not with higher numbers, but with a refreshing newness of Spirit. By carrying the Cross that night past the marbled entrance to his own Bank, Chuck Weidman decided to think about his commitment to Christ. Later Chuck left the banking business and joined the ranks of the Church Army to tell others of the Savior who meant more to him than wealth. A strange reversal occurred. The lady who had written objecting so vehemently to the march in the first place became a most enthusiastic supporter. We did not embarrass her by telling her that we had noticed her peering curiously around her curtains as the procession passed!

"Colton Church Procession"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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