Sturkie Family History
If I Fall, the Lord Will Catch Me
~~by Paul D. Sturkie, Phd.

In the small town where I lived, there were two churches. My father was active in one of them as a deacon and as the leader of singing. In the summer, it was customary for each denomination to sponsor a revival or protracted meeting. These meetings lasted about 7 to 10 days with the preacher delivering two sermons per day, one in the morning and one in the evening; the meetings were held after the farmers had “laid by” their crops and had little to do.

The sermons were of the “hell and damnation” kind, increasing in intensity and emotional fervor as the week progressed. The object of the preacher appeared to be to frighten the people with ”hell fire and brimstone” so that they would seek to have their souls saved. The preacher also employed public testimonials and confessions to whip up emotional intensity.

The meetings were held in an open tabernacle, open at the sides; it looked like a large square top roof raised several feet off the ground. Mothers with children sat near the edge of the tabernacle where they let their children sleep on pallets or blankets.

I remember distinctly one day time service near the end of the meeting when emotions were at fever pitch. The preacher had been unusually effective in stirring the emotions of the congregation, and was making his final call to sinners to come, confess and be saved, accompanied by the singing of a “tear jerking hymn.” As my father lead in singing, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, I’ll be There, I observed with interest what was transpiring on a front row bench. An emotionally overwrought middle-aged woman (Mrs. Currier) jumped up from her bench, even before the rest of the congregation rose, and began shouting ‘praise the Lord; praise the Lord!”. Next to her on the bench stood old man Weathers who was obviously uplifted by the sermon. Sitting on the bench between these two was Mr. Weather’s expensive white Stetson hat, which he watched over closely.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Currier had worked herself up into an emotional frenzy, shouting praises to the Lord. In her frenzy she shouted “if I fall the Lord will catch me; If I fall the Lord will catch me!” and she fell (plopped) down on Mr. Weather’s hat. Greatly disturbed and more concerned for his hat than his soul, he immediately began pushing and pulling Mrs. Currier until he extricated his battered and wrinkled hat. Angrily he was heard to mutter something unintelligible and walked out of the tabernacle.