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The Southern Sunday Tradition

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December 19, 2011 by Terry Ropp

The South has a wonderful tradition non-existent in the North: Sunday night church.

Oh, we have Wednesday nights like you do, but Sunday nights are for family, fun, or simple relaxation. From my point of view, Sunday night church is ending the day the way we started-with God.

The last Sunday in November, Larry and I went to Zinnamon Church in West Fork out on 170 on the way to Devil’s Den. On this particular Sunday, the service was a musical celebration presented by a quintet known as One Way Flight.

The pastor is Frank Dalmut, who has been serving the congregation for over three years. He began the service with a fitting and beautiful metaphor.
“Tonight is the dessert for the meal I hope you shared with God this morning somewhere,” he said. The group then aptly began their performance with “Come and Dine.”

The Southern collection of beloved hymns is different than those I was familiar with in the North, but those songs have become part of my beloved collection now as well.

The group mixed old-time hymns like “How Great Thou Art” with original compositions like “One Way Flight” which was composed by the son of Dave Buttress, the group leader. The song was written after the group adopted its name and explains the unusual name.

The warmth and appreciation of the congregation was visible. A grandmother put her arm around her teenage granddaughter and hugged. Feet tapped, hands clapped, and bodies swayed to the rhythmic, compelling musical sounds filling and echoing within the small church.

While I was listening and looking around the church, my attention was drawn to a simple crown of thorns in the middle of the front, blonde-paneled wall. The effect was startling, more poignant than any rough hewn cross or more graphic crucifix I have ever seen. The thorns were like the wicked three-inch spikes on honeysuckles so common and despised in this region. The meaning was as clear as the music.

After the services, people were invited for refreshments. Here friends ​​chatted and new friendships formed. Larry and I spoke with Harley and Verneal Prater. Ronnie and Kay Coker were there with grandchildren and a niece filling a whole row right in front of us. Also present was Brian Kishline and his nephew Hunter Hardin.

One Way Flight makes occasional visits to this Church. Rhythm guitar and vocals are by Dave who is from Arkoma, Okla. Danny Long who play bass guitar and Tommy Kemp who plays lead guitar are both from Mudrow, Okla., while steel guitarist Jerry Roller is from Van Buren and drummer Shannon Christian is from Greenwood.

I am sure of one thing. If I see they are performing again, I will make a point of going. Heartfelt gospel is not something I want to miss.

Terry Ropp

Terry Ropp is a freelance writer for several publications, including the Washington County Observer, and a semi-retired educator of almost forty years. She moved to Arkansas in 2005, feels at home for the first time in her life, and enjoys writing about her new state. You may e-mail her at terrymerrill@hotmail.com.

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