Growing up as a preacher’s kid, there was one time of the year that was exciting. While we rarely took vacations, the trip to Macon, Georgia for our church denomination’s state convention was the “vacation” for me – at least when I was younger.
Our church held a state convention every year in Macon. If you are not familiar with a “church” state convention, it was where all of the churches in our denomination in the state would come together for a few days in July. There was a lot of preaching, singing and various programs throughout the weekend. When I was younger, the preaching didn’t really interest me. The real treat was staying in a motel and eating out at restaurants.
My first memory of going to the State Convention was probably when I was six-years-old. We stayed downtown at the Dempsey Hotel which was within walking distance of the Macon City Auditorium. The Dempsey is now low income apartments but back then it was something special.
One of my favorite restaurants back then was Shoney’s. Eating out was a rare treat and Shoney’s was just over the top. It was also pretty awesome to get a Big Boy comic book.
Oh yes there was preaching at the convention but I don’t remember much of it back then. My dad was a trooper. I was amazed how he could actually sit and listen to them with the strictest of concentration. My mom – on the other hand – wasn’t one that sat through the sermons. She would take me with her to the stores downtown. The old Woolworth’s was one our favorite places. I still remember the creaking wooden floors and the musky smells from the store.
When we went to the convention with my grandparents, my Ma-Ma loved going to the S&S Cafeteria. I will always remember that about her and I still remember the crowds during lunch then and waiting in long lines.
The convention moved to the Macon Coliseum for a few years. The Coliseum was clearly much larger than the crowd we had. It was still fun to be there. The convention moved back when the auditorium was remodeled.
In later years, they would have the Youth program on Saturday Nights. The youth of the state would line up and march into the auditorium and sit in designated seats closest to the front for an evening of youth-oriented programs.
Perhaps the most anticipated part of the convention was at the very end when the State Overseer would announce the appointments of pastors and churches for the next church year. I think there was one year that my dad didn’t know where we were going until the overseer announced it. Most of the other times we knew but that would be top secret information. It would be humorous as the overseer would be going through the list of churches and hear everyone turn the page in their program at the same time.
Oh yes, there was preaching and I did appreciate many of the sermons in my later years of attending. I still remember some awesome sermons from one of the State Overseer’s several years ago. I actually bought a tape of his sermons and listened to them many years after that. I probably didn’t sit as attentively as my dad did but I learned to appreciate it more the older I got.
The convention was also a time to catch up with old friends and people we met over the years. We all grew up to have families of our own and move on in our lives.
Honestly, I can’t say I miss the convention anymore. Life has changed and I have changed. They still have the convention but it’s every two years now. The last one attended was nothing like I remembered it to be but those old memories are still there. Staying at the various hotels in Macon. Eating at the restaurants and enjoying our “vacation” at the state convention.