Mr. Everett Whittington was the Sunday school superintendent in my first pastorate at New Salem, Mississippi. I was only sixteen, and he was about eighty. The little country church at the end of the gravel road could get hot as blazes in the humid summer South.
I preached to my little congregation of ten while standing six inches under a naked hundred-watt bulb dangling from a wire in the ceiling. I’ve always wondered if this was the beginning of a bald spot about the size of a light bulb’s heat pattern. Red wasps circled the bulb as I preached. The heat attracted them. I was always cautious about breathing deeply or gesturing liberally.
A local businessman heard of our “heated” summer services and graciously donated an air conditioner for the church sanctuary. I was elated. When I presented the gift to the church board, Mr. Everett immediately staked his ground. “I’m against it!” And with that, the discussion was ended.