On Extracurricular Charity



Also Featuring: Ila, Kathy, and Theresa

Scene Title On Extracurricular Charity
Synopsis Joseph and three of his flock talk about another church's good works. It isn't even a Baptist church.
Date June 15, 2009

Guiding Light Baptist Church

There is no mistaking this building as anything but a church, with its arching glass windows and concrete cross fixed to the edge of the pointed roof. Curving stone steps lead up from the pavement to a set of black double doors, often kept closed during the colder weather, but unlocked during the allocated hours written on a blue sign fix to the brick wall. In white, formal letting, it reads GUIDING LIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH and lists its hours of worship.

Through the doors, you first step into an open, nondescript foyer, with access to an unobtrusive staircase headed upwards, and a second hallway leading off somewhere less public also. Mainly, this room opens straight out to the much more spacious worship hall, with immovable rows and rows of pews. A small church, it only seats an absolute maximum of around one hundred and fifty people at a time. It has a high ceiling and is warmly lit, simple and reverent in design, colours light and earthy. The stage before the pews is wide open, with seats off to the side for other pastors and guest speakers, and there is a podium placed off center. On the other side, there is a small organ with music sheets kept nearby.

Monday features no regular service at the Guiding Light Baptist Church, but that doesn't mean the regulars don't show their faces anyway. There are those who come every morning just to sit in silent contemplation — and to visit with friends afterwards, of course. The church is a network, a community, a family after its fashion; and family members gossip.

Not that the three women — Kathy, Ila, and Theresa by name — who stand in the foyer this morning, older but not elderly, would admit to doing anything as base as gossip. No, no. They're just curious about the people who aren't here. Concerned for their well-being. Not gossiping.

"— Johann out of town again, Ila? I didn't see him at service yesterday," Kathy points out.

No service, but that certainly doesn't mean Joseph isn't here. It would be unusual for him not to be, in fact; the job doesn't end at service, as underscored by the presence of the three women whose voices he can only just hear from where he'd been cleaning up in the kitchen. Rinsing out a couple of mugs from tea from when he'd last been holding hands and talking in gentle tones with a member of his congregation.

Hands dried on a tea towel left on the counter, he emerges, only pausing just shy of viewing when he hears the conversation; dressed as only can be expected — neatly, in slacks and a button down of varying shades of plain, tie and jacket foregone for now in the warm summer weather. He sees a lot of faces and has to memorise a lot of names, but it's the regular attendees that are scored into his memory.

A hesitation, before Joseph approaches with a smile and an unobtrusive, "Good mornin'." Not that he gossips either, right, but vague interest steers him over.

"He is in Jersey," Ila answers, "helping with the Lord's good works. I will tell him he was missed," she concludes, smiling warmly at her friends.

"Did he tell you about the Cathedral?" Theresa asks. "I always —" Uh-oh, they have company. Cue awkward sudden cessation of conversation, and a game attempt at recovery.

"Pastor Joseph! A good morning to you, too," Theresa greets, with smiles and murmured agreement on the parts of her companions. "I hope the day's treating you well?"

"Good mornin', Theresa, ladies," Joseph greets, pleasantly, coming to a halt that seems mostly temporary, stopping on his way to the office rather than intending to interrupt them. His hands rest in his pockets, a glance over his shoulder towards the open doors allow in summery light rather than the dreary cloud he had associated with the city upon arrival. "The day's goin' fine, thanks. You were sayin' about St, John's?" he asks. "Heard they got good charity work going down there."

The three women exchange glances that are perhaps slightly embarrassed, the pastor of their church having found out they associate with another one also. And one not a baptist establishment, at that! But as they are all Houses of God, surely he cannot object?

"They do," Theresa affirms after a brief pause, head bobbing once. "It's… there's a donation drive coming up," she explains.

"Not — money, not for the Cathedral," Kathy hastily chimes in to explain, "Goods. Food and clothes and the like. For people who don't have them. Theresa and I, we said we'd help spread the word," she continues with a faintly apologetic smile.

A hand drifts up, something of an absolving gesture of a wave. "I see you three just about every Sunday," Joseph assures, with a knowing smile. "Nothin' wrong in givin' a helping hand where it seems like it's needed, and goodness knows they've been doin' it for a while, as far as I can tell. Though, we… do have the trailer park outreach trips every other weekend," he reminds them.

"And we three are nearly always there, are we not?" Ila reminds the pastor in return, with an affectionate smile. Nearly always — but life has other commitments than church and charity alone, and no one can volunteer all the time for everything. "Good work is God's work, no matter where or when it is done."

Kathy quietly makes her excuses and departs; Theresa soon does the same, though Ila lingers a moment longer. "Perhaps we might see you there also?" she asks, nothing subtle about the question — though it is merely a curious inquiry, with no sense of pressure attempting to… encourage the pastor to go if he chooses otherwise.

Joseph nods in concession to Ila's point and their contributions to the charity work, and tells both departing women, "God bless, see you Sunday," before his dark eyes move on back to the remaining woman in mild curiousity and interest, eyebrows going up. "At St. John's?" he feels moved to clarify. Well, he's meant to be helping, here— and he doesn't always have to be a Baptist pastor to do it, surely. He certainly wasn't a Baptist pastor by breaking curfew to go drag a bleeding terrorist into his car that one time, and so Joseph finds himself agreeing with a smile, and; "Sure, you'll see me there."

Ila's face crinkles in a warm smile. "Very good. Until Wednesday, Pastor." She is, after all, a regular. However, Ila only makes it as far as the doorway before her footsteps pause, the woman craning her neck to peer back over one shoulder at the younger man behind.

"If you see fit, Pastor Joseph, to get involved…" Her wording, the inflection of that one particular verb, suggests rather more than just bringing a donation, or even volunteering to assist with the drive. "…You might mention that you are interested in getting your feet wet."

Ila offers one more brief smile, then slips out into the summer sunshine.

Who doesn't want to get involved, their hands dirty? Or their—

Their feet wet. Joseph's head twitches up a little into better posture, but Ila is already moving out onto the streets, leaving him in mildly baffled silence, and not for any reason that he would feel the need to call her back, to clarify. He supposes that whatever there is to pursue

Well, he knows where to go. For now, he retreats to his office to pick through the chicken-scratch notes he'd written during his episode of backwards visions of water and tides.

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