Some time in February of ’86 Gerald, Penny and Rick got in a car and headed to Greenville, South Carolina. It was a cloudy day. I remember saying hardly anything on the 2.5 hour trip. I made one statement about the clouds as they were allowing the sun to shoot several fingers of light through them to make that picture that many artists have tried to capture for centuries. Gerald even said as much about those clouds. That was about the extent of the conversation. I was struggling with faith for the process.
We had an appointment at Tabernacle Baptist Bible College on White Horse Road in Greenville. I was going to meet Dr. Jerry Clark, the Dean of the Bible College and get an overview of the program, see the campus and local church, which was also located on the campus. We took Exit 44 and drove the five miles to TBC. The church stood prominently on the road. When Dr. Harold Sightler and others bought the church property in the 1950’s White Horse Road was a narrow street making its way toward the mountains of North Carolina. In ’88 it was a 6-lane highway and the only thing that separated the church building from the highway was the sidewalk. You could stand in the road and reach across the sidewalk and touch the building.
We saw the church building, the college campus, the children’s home and the widow’s apartments. The radio station at that time was still in Pickens County. We also saw some of the houses the church owned where some of the students stayed during their tenure. We met with Dr. Clark. He was in his 40’s, wearing a suit and every hair was in place and held there by some kind of spray. I never saw him out of this context in the 20 plus years I have known him now.
Independent Baptist, which would be predominantly what is called Fundamentalists are traditionally conservative in their style. What that means is they would model a Christian style that was more popular in the 60’s. Their music would sound a lot like Lawrence Welk from the 60’s. They mostly wear long or short sleeve dress shirts to the church meetings. The ladies do not typically wear pants in public, though some will wear them in the home. The closest they come to pants would be culottes. It is important to note that they are conservative from a chronological perspective, but not necessarily from a biblical perspective. If their music was played in the 1800’s the fundamentalists of today would be excommunicated from the church. Chronological conservatism and Biblical conservatism are two different things. However, the fundamentalists do want to show their culture that they are separated from them. This they typically do very well. At that time I was an Independent Baptist Fundamentalists and held to all of their ascetic beliefs, which also included a strict adherence to the 3rd or 4th translated version of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible. These were my people. This is my heritage, for which I’m grateful and I was about to set-up camp in Greenville, South Carolina.