It was the end of Saturday. Grandpa and Grandma readied themselves to go to church.
The next day they made their way to the church building carrying some hope, trusting that things just had to get better. Perhaps their friends would find a way to lend them some comfort.
At the door they encountered cold faces. The news had already reached enough members to influence their greetings. Grandpa and Grandma hung their heads and walked solemnly into the building as if to a funeral. No one said good morning or offered a handshake to Grandpa or a hug to Grandma. Deathly silence hung over the congregation.
The service began with singing led by a “Vorsaenger” (Front singer, cantor). The songs seemed to come from a funeral liturgy. Grandma and Grandpa couldn’t sing without tears choking their voices.
The sermon was about to be preached when the coordinator said there would be a brief “Members Only” meeting after the services and all members were asked to stay because an important news item would be presented.
Grandpa and Grandma were suspicious about what this important “news item” might be. They couldn’t concentrate on the sermon or the Bible readings. They continued to look down and avoided making eye contact with the members who sat next to them.
When the service was over the coordinator got up in front of the congregation and said Mr. E, a senior elder, had something to say.
After Mr. E worked his way up to the front, squared his shoulders and pulled himself together to his full 5 foot 11 inch height he said:
“It has come to my attention that the following sons of member families of this congregation have volunteered to join the Army. I will therefore read the names of these men and their fathers and mothers.”
Mr. E thus proceeded to read a list of names. One of the names listed was:
Jacob Alexander Epp, son of Susanna and Jacob Epp.
After the list was read Mr. E went on.
“Because of the transgression that these boys have willingly selected to make I propose that the membership of those families involved be placed on probation for one year. This will give the boys time to change their mind should they want to do so. If any do change their mind, I further propose to have them appear before us and apologize. If we accept their apology they will be accepted with their families back into this congregation”.
“My final proposal is that we vote as members next Sunday on this matter.”
The coordinator resumed the podium and thanked everyone for staying to hear the news about such an important church decision. He admonished everyone to attend the service the following Sunday when a vote would be taken.
Once out of earshot Grandma crisply muttered to Grandpa:
“Jake’s in the ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE not the Army. Of course that Dumkoff wouldn’t know the difference between the best Air Corps in the world to a hired hand slopping pigs.”
“Besides,” Grandma said, “since they probably WILL cut us off our membership next Sunday, I am determined to ask for a refund of our membership dues!”
“Now, now. Susanna. Just calm down. I’m sure Mr. E is right now feeling very proud of himself. The membership will like his courage. He’s our relative after all. He’s not all bad. He’s just following the rules.”
“Rules? My foot. Just wait until Peter gets into trouble. Then we’ll see who follows the rules. Peter must be getting pretty horny by now. I saw him eyeing Bertha when she was only 14 years old. Don’t tell me he’s going to follow Mr. E’s behind all his life.”
“Oh dear. You women do see a lot of things. Well what are we going to write Jake?”
“I’m proud of Jake and I will write and tell him so. And I won’t tell him about our church. That’s our problem. Not his. They never accepted him when he was young so how can they reject him now that he’s older?”
Then after a bit of a pause, “I only wish I could meet Ruth. Just think. I will have a nurse as daughter-in-law,” Grandma continued. “I sure would like to go back to nursing myself again.”