"This story would not have frightened the living daylights out of me had it been untrue or had it been presented as a fictional narrative. But the story is true and remains to me as great a mystery now as when it transpired more than thirty-three years ago.
Lovington, New Mexico, was a peaceful community with a population of 9,000, including women and children. The Church of Christ was located on the corner of 3rd Street at Central Avenue. Their first building was constructed during the 1930s. Some years later, they added another building alongside that first one. Then in the 1960s, they constructed a new auditorium (sanctuary) alongside the second building. The three buildings were connected by a hallway running along the backside of the complex.
Across the street from these buildings was an old funeral home the church purchased to serve as additional classroom space. This was called the Brown Building. Why? Because it was brown. Next door to the Brown Building was a little white house that was called the White House. Why? Oh never mind. The White House was the home of J. D. and Roma Smith. J. D. was one of our elders. Also he was the local undertaker.
I moved my wife and son to Lovington in February 1971 to become the new youth minister for this fine congregation. Brian was 3. Deana was born in August of that year.
In 1973, the elders agreed that I could spend every Tuesday in Portales, NM, taking graduate Bible courses at the Church of Christ Bible Chair located on the Eastern New Mexico University campus. My agreement with the elders included that I would not allow school to conflict with my duties of serving as youth minister. This meant that I would be doing most of my school work after 11 p.m. several nights per week.
Since Deana was only two years old (terrible two’s) I did not wish to disturb her night’s rest with my necessary typing of research papers. So I would go down to the church house to study in my office. The offices were situated in the middle building between the new auditorium and the old original building which, by this time, was a nice fellowship hall.
One night, I was in the church office typing away on my old Adler electric typewriter. I thought I heard something but paid it little notice. There it was again. I quit typing and listened more intently. There was singing. Congregational a cappella singing. They were singing, “Blessed Assurance.” My immediate concern was that I did not know who the “they” were. The singing was so clear and near, at the same time seeming vague and far away.
I eased over to my office door and listened. Yes, there was singing. I opened the door a little and peered into the hallway. The singing stopped. All was quiet. I mulled that over for a few moments then closed the door and returned to my typing. The singing started up again. This time they were singing, “My Faith Looks Up To Thee.” I became a little frightened. No, I became really scared and even found myself fearful of walking out of the building to get into my car. After all, it was midnight. But I made it home in one piece.
Several nights later while studying in my office, I heard the singing again. This time I just sat at my typewriter and listened. They sang several hymns. And yes, they consistently skipped the third verse. But then it got quiet.
Anyway, a few days later, I happened to see J. D. and asked him about the singing. He replied, “Oh that’s the old congregation. They still meet over in the old building where they met back in the 1930s.” Then he added, “I step over there from time to time just to hear them sing. It’s just plain beautiful.” J. D. never cracked a smile and neither did I. Maybe He loved to hear them sing but they scared me half to death.
That dear old elder has “crossed over” but I suspect he still attends regularly with that original Lovington congregation. He loved to sing bass. One of his favorites was “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.”
I would like to visit there just one more night and listen to the old church sing again. Brother Smith was right. It was just plain beautiful."
Winston Hamby –
(Deana’s Dad) …