I served on separate occasions as Chaplain of the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia Senate, which involved preaching to the House of Representatives and to the State Senate in their separate chambers in the Georgia State Capitol. I was serving as pastor of the North Baxley United Methodist Charge during those years.
When I was invited by Georgia Senator Ed Boshears from Brunswick to come to Atlanta and serve as Chaplain of the Georgia Senate, I quickly accepted. I was told that I could bring family and or friends so B. J. and I invited some of our church members to travel with us to Atlanta for the occasion. Two adventuresome young ladies, Eveline Peacock and Margaret Sellers accepted the invitation and we made our traveling plans. The state of Georgia was picking up the tab and we were booked in a downtown Atlanta high-rise hotel near the gold-domed Georgia State Capitol just off Peachtree St.
There was never a dull moment with Eveline and Margaret and B. J. The drive up to Atlanta was exciting and we cut up and carried on in anxious anticipation.
Although, I had been staying in downtown Atlanta hotels since 1953, and had gone to school at Emory, my son Richard and daughter-in-law Tammy, who have lived in Atlanta most of their married life, felt the need to caution us about the dangers that lurked on the foreboding Atlanta streets after dark. “You be sure to stay in your hotel. Don’t get on the streets after dark,” they warned.
We weaved through the Atlanta traffic to our hotel and pulled the white Dodge Caravan up to the front entrance. I believe they were expecting us. I told them that I was serving as Chaplain of the Georgia Senate and that we had reservations. The greeters and hotel porters rolled out the red carpet and gave us the VIP treatment. Our luggage was quickly transported to our rooms. We were courteously presented with keys and politely escorted to our suites.
Since we would spend the next day with the Senators at the State Capitol, we wanted to use the remainder of the day, after getting settled into our hotel, rambling around downtown Atlanta. “Where do y’all want to go,” I asked.
“Let’s go to Underground Atlanta,” Margaret suggested.
B. J. and Eveline were right up for it. B. J. and I had been to Underground Atlanta before. She liked to plunder the shops down there. So to Underground Atlanta we went.
The underground Atlanta excursion included a stop at Hooters. Needless to say, I felt a might uneasy with my church members at Hooters. However, the girls enjoyed the little fling.
Finally, we made our way back to the hotel to freshen up a bit before supper. We would dine at a fashionable restaurant near the Hotel.
After a fundelicious meal served in fine style, the audacious girls, looking for excitement, wanted to go for a night walk on the Atlanta streets. My admonition about the possible hazards that lay in wait went unheeded. So we were off. We walked a few blocks and we were on Peachtree Street.
B. J. and I had been on Peachtree Street a lot of times but we had never walked down it at ten O’clock at night. Eveline and Margaret were having the time of their lives so we all joined in and had a ball that night on Peachtree Street in Atlanta.
The next morning, we joined our hosts for a bountiful buffet breakfast at a big nice restaurant before crossing the street to the State Capitol where we were greeted by a number of Senators and the Lt. Governor. The Lt. Governor is President of the Senate and he along with Senator Boshears would escort and introduce us to various dignitaries including Gov. Zell Miller (Gov. Miller and I were old acquaintances at that time—an interesting relationship).
Finally, it was time to preach to the Georgia Senate. I was introduced and took the podium to preach to that august body of lawmakers. I put hooters and the midnight stroll along Peachtree behind me and preach I did. It made me feel good to see B. J. and Eveline and Margaret sitting out there in special reserved seats backing me up; the Lt. Governor videoed the entire program. I still have that cassette.
After the service in the Senate Chamber, there were various picture-taking sessions with public figures.
We were given the “Key to the Capitol” to go and come and explore to our hearts content.
It was indeed an eventful time in Atlanta.
There’s a rumor that I may return to the Capitol for another preaching experience.