The second hymn to be sung in every Amish church service is the Lob Lied (Praise Song) It takes an average of twenty minutes to sing the four stanzas which each have seven lines. The ministers usually came back from their private meeting toward the end of the last verse. I always hoped they would come before the next song was announced because it seemed as if every time it took them longer than that, all the members would have to stay in after church to deal with some sort of problems.
As much as I had looked forward to seeing what goes on behind those closed doors, I wished with all my heart that I wouldn't have to be part of it once I had been baptized and become a member of the church.
I was back in church for the first time since I had the chicken pox. It seemed nice that the whole family was able to go to church together once again. After the preaching service was over the bishop announced that he wants all the members remain seated after the last song was sung.
I wondered what would happen this time. As far as I knew I hadn't done anything wrong but my hands still felt cold and clammy. After the children had all filed out and the doors were closed, the bishop rose and announced that as everyone knows there is a new hospital bill in the community. That the bill from David's hospital stay was more than Mom and Daddy could pay on their own and that if people would give donations to the trustees they would make that we would get help to pay the bill.
I felt embarrassed that everyone knew that we couldn't pay the bill on our own but wondered why we had to remain seated just for that since they had often announced hospital bills with all the non-members present. I didn't have to wonder for long though as the bishop continued by saying that from time to time foxes sneak into the vineyard and it is the keeper of the vineyards duty to deal with them when ever they appear and sadly another fox had entered.That it was brought to his attention that there was a man who had a few pictures in his house of his children after someone had asked the children to pose and taken a picture of them and then given him a copy. If this is true he asks that David Swarey would leave the building while the rest of the church votes on his punishment.
I felt my face turn red and my stomach turn into knots as Daddy got up and left the church building. The bishop then addressed the rest of the church saying how sad he was that this had occurred and they think a common confession should suffice as punishment this time. he sat down and the ministers gave their two cents worth and then went to see if the rest of the church was in agreement.I knew I was expected to say "I am in agreeance and I wish the Lord's blessings" I didn't think it was necessary for Daddy to make a confession but knew I wasn't allowed to disagree since I was only a girl. When the preacher that was taking the women's votes came to me and bent his head I quickly whispered in his ear. "I wish the Lord's blessings" but refused to say that I agreed.
After the ministers had taken the whispered votes and and returned to their seats the minister who had taken the men's votes announced that every one had agreed. The one that had taken the women's votes added that all the women had agreed also. The bishop rose and said he was glad everyone was agreed because where people are in unity the power of God is strong. He then asked one of the men to go tell Daddy to come back inside.
After Daddy returned to his seat the bishop said " The church has decided that they require a common confession and to repeat after him. I acknowledge that I have grieved God and the church and with heartfelt sorrow I ask both to forgive me and with God's help I will try to live more holy"
After Daddy had said the confession the bishop extended forgiveness saying how nice it is for Daddy to be at peace with God and the church again.
I felt horrible about the whole deal and vowed I would never make a confession in church. The humiliation and knowing that everyone in Somerset County would know about it was all the motivation I needed to be extra careful.