Remembering Grandmother

Originally Published in The Washington Post, Outlook March 1, 1998

Faith, Hope & Clarity
By John W. Fountain
Florence G. Hagler, one of the prayer warriors at True Vine Church
of God In Christ and John Fountain's grandmother.
The air inside the narrow storefront church on Chicago's West Side felt like hot maple syrup. Grandmother's brown hands, reached up toward the high white ceiling, the glowing globes and the cobwebs, as if trying to pull down heaven and touch God. "Praise yo' name Je-sus!" one church mother shouted.
"Hal-le-lu-jah," intoned another.
It was Sunday service at True Vine Church of God in Christ, a weekly spit-spewing Pentecostal revival, sometime in 1982. After six days of enduring one thing or the other among the travails of life in the ghetto, "the saints" usually sought rejuvenation through these teary testimonials and spirituals.
I once branded the whole business as snake oil, being of the mind that the spiritual powwows were no better than smoking weed or drinking cheap wine. But that was before my teen marriage and a time on welfare and three children to feed by age 22 led me to seek the intoxication of the Spirit.

True Vine Church of God In Christ (circa 1970's), founded by Fountain's grandparents George A. and Florence G. Hagler.
The church, located on Chicago's West Side was at 3915 W. Roosevelt Road and was a beacon of hope. 
"You can't stop dreaming or you start to die."