Oh, come to the church at the Corners…

Hazzard's ChurchPeople, I think that this coming Sunday afternoon you owe it to yourself to join us at Hazzard’s Corners Church.

(I should explain that by “us,” I mean us folks who, apparently blessed with a charmed life, are fortunate enough to live in the Queensborough/Hazzard’s Corners/Hart’s-Riggs/Rimington/Eldorado/Cooper/Madoc area. And no matter where you live, if you know one or more of those names – names for tiny places that, in some cases, now exist pretty much only in history and memory – then you are one of “us.” All the more reason to come to church on Sunday!)

The occasion is the annual summer service at beautiful and historic Hazzard’s Church, which was built in 1857 as a Methodist place of worship and then, when church union came about in 1925, became a United Church. Hazzard’s was closed in 1967, when so many other small rural United churches across the country were, but thanks to historically and community minded volunteers it has been kept in wonderful shape and is graced with services every August and every Christmas. (I’ve written about those lovely services several times before, like here and here.)

The service this Sunday (that would be Aug. 17) begins, as the summer service always does, at 2 p.m., but it is preceded (as it always is) by a rousing hymn sing that starts at 1:30. Which means that you will want to arrive sometime before 1:30, because everybody loves the hymn sing, and you will too.

Now, here’s where I feel a tad awkward about this invitation: I feel compelled to tell you that if you come, you will have to listen to yours truly speak. I was extremely honoured to have been asked by the Hazzard’s folks to be the guest speaker at this year’s service, and in a moment of probable foolishness said yes. So there you have it. Full disclosure. It will be very moving to me to stand and speak at the pulpit where, back in my childhood in the 1960s, my father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, conducted services every Sunday. It is always a thrill, when I return to Hazzard’s Church, to meet people who remember my dad from those days. I only hope I will be able to do justice to their memories of Dad’s remarkable rural ministry in this area.

Memories and community: those are the important things about the annual summer service at Hazzard’s Corners Church. People come from near and far to sit in those old straight-backed pews once again, to sing the hymns they remember (or can imagine) singing there many years ago, and to renew old friendships and share good stories and warm reminiscences. It is always a happy occasion.

I suspect I am not the only rural church-going person of a certain age who, when thinking of services at churches like Hazzard’s, always ends up with one particular song running through her mind. Come on, you know what song it is (having been tipped off by the title of this post): “No spot is so dear to my childhood… Oh, come to the church in the vale! Oh, come, come, come, come, come to the church at the Corners…”

Okay, I’ve tweaked the words a bit. But here, have a listen to the Carter Family sing the original. And at the same time, maybe think about how much you love small rural churches, whether in the wildwood, or at Hazzard’s Corners, or wherever. And maybe resolve to visit, or revisit, one of the best of those churches, and some great old memories to boot, this Sunday.

So – take it away, A.P., Sara and Mother Maybelle:

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