Ron McFarland


When I was thirteen years old my parents suddenly became Methodists. All of my life we had been God-fearing Presbyterians, and my father sang in the choir and my mother taught Sunday School. I went to vacation Bible school at the First Presbyterian Church in Rockledge, Florida, and my first girlfriend, Sherry, she of the blue-green eyes and honey-blonde hair, was a Presbyterian. Before that, when we moved to Winter Park in 1950, we attended Park Lake Presbyterian, and before that, in Barnesville, Ohio, we worshipped at the massive reddish-sandstone block First Presbyterian Church where I was baptized. Or was that in the coal-mining town of Neffs, where my mother was living with her parents while my father was in basic training or Officer Candidate School? OCS, I think. On the occasion of my christening, I am reputed to have spit up on my father's new forest-green uniform. He must have been a second lieutenant by then, a shave-tail. I studied The Westminster Catechism and memorized Bible verses; elderly ladies praised me for not squirming during the long sermons and seemingly interminable pastoral prayers. I even got married for the first time in the Barnesville church, a Tom Thumb wedding at age five.