Well, a new year has come and it is very cold here with lots of snow on the ground. I thought this would be a good time to bring you up to date on what is going on around here. As soon as spring gets here I won't have much time. I know I haven't written in a long time but we seem to get so busy.
You may have noticed that I didn't call you Preacher Charles like I usually do. I was talking to Joe Bob the other day and mentioned you. Joe Bob told me I shouldn't call you that because it sounds like a title. Well, I had never thought of it that way but I think he is right so I am going to try to watch a little closer how I say things from now on. I hope you don't mind me just calling you Charles. There are lots of my old habits that I am trying to break but it sure is tough to give up so many things you have done and said for years.
We are still meeting over at Joe Bob's place just like I told you before, but we are going to have to make some changes. Joe Bob and Molly Bea have a big house but it is not big enough for the numbers we now have. We all talked it over and decided we didn't want to try to get a building because that would have a tendency to pull us back into the "Church arrangement" and besides we just believe that there are better ways to spend money. The whole group decided that the best thing to do is to start meeting in more than one home and keep the groups small enough that our homes will take care of us.
We don't want to lose contact with each other so we decided that we will arrange some meeting now and then for the whole group. We can probably get the Community Center or if it is in the summer, we can have an outdoor meeting.
In my last letter I mentioned a new family that lives close to me. They are Herb and Sue Crandal and their two little girls. Sue is out of the hospital now and doing real well but she doesn't have her strength back and still needs help with her little ones. Molly Bea goes over about three times each week and helps her with housework and Patricia goes every time she can. Molly Bea hit it off so well with those little girls that they think she is their grandmother. We have all been paying on Sue's hospital bill and just about have it paid off. It sure is a good thing my Daddy told us to be saving up some money because he just barely had the words out of his mouth when we met the Crandals and they sure did need some help. We just thank the Lord that we have been able to help them.
The Crandals never had thought about anything connected with the Bible and they were a little reluctant when we invited them to come study with us. We told them that we sure didn't have all the answers but we just study and try to live a life pleasing to God. Well, when Sue got out of the hospital her kids begged them to come to sec Molly Bea on Sunday and they have been meeting with us since then. Molly Bea is in their house a lot and Herb asks her a lot of questions about the Bible. Molly Bea is real excited about it because she thinks they are getting pretty serious.
A few weeks back Joe Bob baptized his neighbors (the ones that had been Methodists). It was pretty chilly but I don't think anybody minded. Joe Bob's stock tank just might end up taking several people to heaven. Anyway, the Crandal's were there to see that. They didn't say much at the time but Herb especially has been asking Molly Bea a lot of questions about it. Molly Bea gets so excited she is about to pop but she keeps visiting and studying with them.
Carl Jackson who rents from Patricia's daddy has been meeting with us a lot and his wife (Pat) usually comes with him. He can ask more questions than any human I ever met and he sure does keep me and Joe Bob scratching for answers. We just tell him we don't know all the answers but we sure are willing to try to find the truth. He was real interested in learning that "Church" is not in God's word and after he saw the light on that, he has been real eager to learn more. He stewed a long time about baptism and we just kept going back to God's Word and emphasizing what it says about the necessity of baptism. None of us tried to tell him what to do. We just studied with him and let him make his own decision. Well, it bothered him that he had already been immersed but finally told us that he knew he was baptized to get into the Baptist Church and with what he had learned he wasn't too comfortable with that. Anyway, he asked me to baptize him a couple of weeks ago and we had to break some ice to do that but it sure was worth it. Carl's wife told him he was crazy and that she was going to stay a Baptist but she meets with us all the time now and she is very interested so maybe we will make some progress there.
Last fall before it got too cool we all packed up and went over to Momma and Daddy's one Sunday and spent the whole day with the group over there. We met under Daddy's big oak trees, had dinner on the ground, did a lot of studying, singing, and praying and just had an opportunity to get acquainted. There was a man there who had been wanting to go to India to see if he couldn't teach some of the people in that country. He has studied their culture and language a lot and we all thought it would be a good idea to help him. We agreed that both groups would send him money each month and we made up a fund that day to help him with his travel expenses. He is in India now and we have heard from him once but he hasn't had time to do much yet. We hope this works out for the best.
Things have really been stewing down at the Church of Christ. Several of those people have started meeting with us on a regular basis and that ruffled some feathers. Patricia's Mother and Daddy decided they better see what was going on so they met with us a few times on Monday and Friday nights. Well, John enjoyed it so much that he announced he would like to be a regular part of the group on those two nights. They still go down "to Church" on Sunday and Wednesday - I guess you remember that he has been the "Head Elder" for years. Anyway, they tell us what goes on down there. They had a "Gospel Meeting" down there shortly after I wrote you the last time. Joe Bob, Molly Bea, Patricia and I went on Tuesday and Thursday nights. We enjoyed it a lot because we heard some real good preaching and most of the people were real nice to us.
Some time back Mike Simpson (the preacher) kept agitating for the Elders to "do something about Sam Hill," so he finally called an Elders meeting. Mike told the Elders that they had to withdraw from me. Well, John Hathaway said that he had been to some of our meetings and he didn't think we were doing anything wrong. He said Mike ranted and raved about how I was responsible for wrecking the Church and so the other two Elders finally decided to go along with him and they wrote me a letter saying that since I had turned my back on the Lord that they had no choice but to withdraw from me. I thought that was a little strange since I hadn't been down there in a long time and I told Mike once that I no longer considered myself a member of the Church of Christ. I haven't noticed any difference except that Mike and those two Elders don't speak to me now. Everybody else down there is just as friendly as always. As a matter of fact I think it caused interest in what we are doing.
Now the preacher is trying to get rid of John Hathaway. He is telling the other two Elders that they have to "put John out of the office of Elder" because he is helping "a movement that aims to destroy the Church" and that the only reason John "backs" me is because I am dating Patricia. I don't know what will happen from all of that but I suspect that Mike will eventually get John "put out." John seems to be pretty fed up with the whole situation and I don't much think he would object too much. Carl Jackson talks to him about it a lot and Carl thinks that John is just about to the point of agreeing with us that there shouldn't be a Church. It is kind of funny when you think about it. For years John tried to get Carl out of the Baptist Church and make "A Church of Christ" out of him. Now Carl is about to teach John that he needs to leave the Church of Christ and just be a Christian. Life takes some funny turns.
My other big news for this time is that Patricia and I plan to be married the first Saturday in June and we want you to perform the ceremony. Patricia's parents have given us their blessing and the wedding will be an outdoors affair in the Hathaway's back yard. We are hoping that you and your wife can come down a week or so before the wedding so that you can meet all of the new people I have been telling you about. We are planning on seeing you then. Please let me know real soon if you can do this for us.
Your brother in Christ,
Sam Hill, Jr.