THE PREACHER'S DAUGHTER: High on the hill and above the town

Erinn Williams

I grew up in a church with royal blue carpet and matching pews. The kind of church you could crawl around the floor in as a child and find treasures. Bobby pins, funeral home fans, stray peppermints, and occasionally a lady’s hanky that had got lost during a sea of emotion would be discarded. I can still close my eyes and recall where everyone sat. This is the church my family would build from the ground up and fill with memories most of my childhood.

It’s amazing how significant a place, a memory, people from the past can be as we age. I have grown to cherish the simple things, such as the smell of a red back hymnal. The pages have a distinct sweetness to them.

I learned just last week of Ms. Irene Haun’s passing. Two days short of her 100th birthday, she was truly a patriarch in the city of Williamsburg. She was still active, still present, still on the move. She was a faithful election officer, she made gifts for friends, and she loved the Lord. I have no doubt I will see her again.

Reading her obituary, I began to reflect on the harmony that would accompany Mrs. Irene and friends as they would visit the church on the hill when I was a child. They seemed to always be in sync. Nona Smoot, Lily Haun, Rose Bowen and Mrs. Berry.

They would walk up the aisle, tambourines in hand to the pulpit and sing without music most visits. I would peek over the pew and watch as they swayed to and fro with a rhythm only the Holy Ghost could provide. They had the “stuff,” the “goods” as my daddy would say. They could get a prayer through. They would sing to the rafters with praise. I loved it; I loved every minute of it.

It’s the small things that stand out in my memory, like the gentle brush of the tambourine against a polyester skirt. Ms. Nona would clap and keep time, shouting “Jesus on the main line, you better tell him what you want.” I remember thinking, I bet these ladies call Jesus all the time, they have his number.

The Sunday nights the “2nd Street Singers” came to First Deliverance Church were some of my favorite church services. Some of the most powerful humans live amongst us disguised as friends and neighbors. “Slabtown” may not be as vibrant as it once was, but the ladies who journeyed from there to join us at church are still very much embedded in my memory forever. I always knew when I saw any of them coming, they had Jesus on their minds.

If I don’t achieve much anything else in this life, I hope I find myself like Sister Lily Haun, as she raised her hands and shook her tambourine. I hope I’m always running, trying to make a hundred, because 99 and a half just won’t do.

Erinn Williams is originally from Williamsburg, and now resides in Owensboro, Ky. The daughter of a teacher and a preacher, she hopes to make a difference through her words. She serves as a teacher's assistant in Daviess County, and writes for two newspapers in Western Kentucky. She can be contacted at

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