Every Sunday School attendance earned a stamp depicting a story from the Gospels.
Unless I was ill, I was expected to attend to church every Sunday, Holy Communion Service in the morning and Sunday school in the afternoon. Dressed in my best clothes, hat included, I would sit in the second-back pew with my cousins.
The service followed the usual format of hymns, prayers, reading from the gospel and an incredibly boring sermon. There seemed to be a lot of hellfire and damnation and not a lot of Christian loving and charity. My attention would wander, and I was aware of the boys in the pew behind me. Because I am called Joyce, when the word ‘rejoice’, appeared in the hymns they would yell the word in my ear. I don’t think they paid much attention to the service.
Christmas services always seemed to have a different atmosphere, especially Midnight Mass. There was always more joy and celebration. Walking home after midnight on Christmas Eve I was always amused to see fathers trudging home with large, secret Christmas gifts such as bikes and dolls’ prams, which had been hidden at a relative’s house.
Sunday School was more enlightening and interesting because of the stories from the overseas missions. It could also be very frightening. I suffered from dermatitis on my hands which meant the skin flaked off. After a story about lepers I was convinced I had leprosy until I held my hand under the hot water tap. I could feel the pain, so it wasn’t leprosy – what a relief. Every Sunday School attendance earned a stamp depicting a story from the Gospels – I never did get a full album.
The only time I played truant from Sunday School and went with non-church-going friends to the local park, I fell crossing the stream and split my elbow, earning me several stitches and a good telling off.
However little attention I paid to the services, I did acquire a faith which is still strong, but I do not go to church.