Growing up Pentecostal in the 1960s offered unique opportunities for self-evaluation and maturation. I was raised in a Pentecostal Holiness church in an eastern North Carolina city of 28,000. Church members were generally from working-class stock. A few enjoyed the prosperity of the 1950s postwar boom and attained middle-class living patterns; all aspired to middle-class education and earning power for their children.

Still, the message that resounded from the pulpit reflected a continuing mistrust of society and a fear of the trappings of success. It was an environment conditioned by a religious movement slowly making the painful transition from radical sect to respectable denomination. For youngsters, this tension provided a unique set of obstacles, but the atmosphere also offered lessons and incentives that could prove invaluable for future growth and development.

Though the “holy roller” stigma was much greater for the first two generations, Pentecostal baby boomers like me learned at an early age that theirs was different from mainline churches. Revivals came frequently—at least once each quarter. Generally scheduled for a week or ten days, these events could easily stretch into an additional week if the evangelist sparked the proper emotional surge. Since there was special virtue in attending every service, revivals forced children to get their homework done early, miss regular television programs, and keep late hours. If a service was particularly successful with a lot of “lingering around the altar,” young children would fall asleep in the pews before the service ended. The next morning, memories of being gently carried from the church, taken home in the car, and undressed for bed merged ...

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