I went into the local bank in Haddock to close our account this morning. No, I am not moving away but the bank will close its doors in just a few weeks after being in business for over 100 years. It marks the end of an era. Without question, the folks who will miss it the most are the elderly who made going to the bank and post office a part of their weekly ritual. The first time I went into the bank with my wife to open the account they were rather suspicious of these strangers coming in to open a new account. However, once we identified ourselves we were welcomed with open arms and the explanation, “the last time strangers came in the bank they robbed us.” Now, some would suggest the only robbery taking place is being done by the Texas bank that purchased the oldest bank in the county a few years ago and now has decided it serves their purpose no more. Thus, current and future residents will be robbed of this central ingredient of small town living.
I will miss the little bank. No, I told a new staff member once, they don’t have an ATM machine but I don’t need an ATM machine. I just go to the bank during their hours and ask for money without even having to show my ID. Nor did I have a debit card until the big bank entered town. But I have been known to go into the bank to make a deposit without the requisite deposit slip and begin to apologize and one of the tellers would quickly begin to call out my account number so she could help me finish my banking transaction. They knew my account number even when I did not- I’d like to see a TV commercial about that! The first time I went into the bank years ago to make a loan to buy a vehicle, I asked the bank president what paperwork I would need to complete in order to get a loan. He looked at me with a quizzical look and said go get the car and come in and sign the papers- no application papers are necessary.
Thinking about the bank leaving town is not really a surprise as most customers saw it coming. What are other changes coming for small towns and communities like Haddock? It is a phenomenon of our society- Walmart comes to town and smaller stores disappear. We call it progress. As I reflect on what this all means for the Church I realize that in many places, especially urban centers smaller neighborhood churches have succumbed to the mega-churches that are larger than the shopping malls of my youth. I’m sure these churches have terrific ministries and have a vital purpose in the Kingdom. But I like a church where the pastor and staff know my name. I like to enter the doors and recognize familiar faces and I feel especially loved when a kindergarten child runs to embrace me because I am their friend. It is a special environment to be in a deacon’s meeting where kinfolks, neighbors, and friends discuss what’s best for the future of our church. There’s something special about multiple generations sitting on the same pew and strangers becoming like family because of the connection we have in Christ. By the way, I have it on good authority the Church of Jesus Christ will not be closing, it’s guaranteed to remain open in the Good Book.