Editor's Note: This column was previously published in The Hope Star-Journal.

My grandmother, Etta Dixon Herron, evidently was the first person through the door in 1915 when the Hope Pilgrim Holiness Church was built on Market Street just south of Washington.

Until then, she had been a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church at the corner of Washington and Elm. However, she and several other church members had a "falling out" over whether Christians should "speak in tongues" and founded the new church.

Her beliefs included prohibitions against women cutting their hair or wearing jewelry, make-up, short sleeves and skirts above the ankles. She also knew an especially hot spot in hell was reserved for anyone who drank alcohol, smoked, danced, read novels, used profane language, or played cards. (She later added movies and television to the list, although now and then she secretly watched the Lawrence Welk Show at her son's house while pretending to be asleep in front of the TV.)

You would think with all those rules (and considering that there probably were a few people in the Wesleyan Methodist Church breaking them) she would have been tolerant of a small thing like some folks "getting under the power" and chattering off in a "prayer language" during services. However, she wasn't.

After a couple of years of arguing with the "tongues speakers," she and the "non-tongues speakers" packed up their Bibles and moved a block east to become charter members of the new congregation.

Grandma saw religion as an extremely narrow path to heaven, hacked constantly through a jungle of sin, using a compass provided by God and a precise set of instructions from her church on the correct way to read the compass.

Following the narrow path would have been difficult enough if her rules had been precise and unchanging. However, with each new preacher and each new guest evangelist her rules got longer and more diverse. So did the Wednesday night "Prayer Meetings" where altar calls to repentance and salvation sometimes lasted for what seemed like hours.

Eventually, my family began to suffocate under the weight and seeming hopelessness of it all and one-by-one stopped attending the services. My older sister followed her friends to the First Baptist Church, and my younger sister started attending youth fellowship at the Methodist Church. At about 9 years old, I was the only family member left accompanying Grandma to her church.

Every Wednesday night, and sometimes on Sunday mornings, I would be called upon to confess all of the sins I had accumulated and to seek forgiveness at the altar.

Since my memory of terrible things I had done prior to grade school were vague, I only had about four years of sins to deal with, so I was at a distinct disadvantage when compared to adults -- some of whom were able to confess and be saved again every Wednesday.

I was what might have been called a monthly confessor. And even then I had to occasionally make up sins to be saved from when pressed at the altar to "pray through."

Of course, whenever I lied about the sins, I set myself up to have something I really could confess and be forgiven for the next week, so it all worked out fine in the end.

By the time I entered junior high school, I also had abandoned Grandma, in favor of youth fellowship at the Moravian Church -- where all of the best looking girls seemed to be going.

In retrospect, that would probably have been something worth seeking forgiveness for at the Wednesday night services, but the Moravians never pushed the issue.