Mentone, AL - Since its founding almost a half a century ago St. Luke's Methodist Church in Mentone has been a church that by its own confession has "struggled to be happy." The members of the congregation of just over 100 people seem to consistently struggle with one another, arguing and holding grudges.
Over the years disputes have broken out over everything from building projects to who will run Vacation Bible School, to someone's casserole not being eaten at a church picnic.
"We have two ladies in this church that haven't spoken to one another in over twenty years" said deacon Charles Ainsworth. "I don't remember all of the details, but it had something to do with one of the ladies criticizing the flower arrangement that one of the other ladies had made. It's not that we don't love one another, we just don't seem to like one another. "We've all grown up together, and we just seem to get on each others nerves a lot."
The various pastors of the church over the years have tried to preach peace among the congregation, but to no avail. But the church's current pastor, Rev. Prentiss Carnes recently "discovered" a verse that may be the solution to all of the strife within the church.
"I was reading in Ephesians and came across 4:26a where it says 'Be angry and yet do not sin,'" said Carnes. "I started thinking and realized that there's a Biblical mandate here to be angry, that perhaps all these years we've been getting it all wrong. May God has called us to be an angry church. That seems to be where our gifts lie, in being angry."
And "angry" is just what they are fostering now at St. Luke's. The church has recently made Ephesians 4:26a its theme verse and has set out to make itself known as "the angriest church in America."
"It's a relief to know that we're okay" said Lillian Ainsworth, wife of Charles. "We stayed so blooming mad at one another all of the time I wasn't sure what our problem was, but I see now that we just have a different calling by God. The Lord calls some of us to be angry and that is our calling I suppose."
"I believe we can be angry at one another and not sin because we still love each other deep down" said Carnes. "But we need to foster this anger that we have and learn how to do it better. God commands it, and therefore we must do it."