Once You Go In, A Memoir of Radical Faith by Carly Gelsinger, She Writes Press


On one particular day, we find ourselves on Grove Street, a part of town we’ve never explored before. We maneuver our bikes around deep potholes and portions of upturned sidewalk. At the end of the street, we happen upon a little grey church with cracked stucco walls and a wooden cross nailed above the entrance. A vinyl banner hanging from the roof says Voice In The Desert Youth, 7 p.m. Thursdays.

Youth. The word makes me picture slumber parties and pepperoni pizza and group photos and matching T-shirts. The Baptist church I’ve been going to off and on for years doesn’t have Youth. They have babies and old people, and Vacation Bible School, which is for little kids. I wonder what it would be like to have a group, a place to belong.

I have heard about this church before. The legend around town is that when the Spirit pays a visit to the little church on Grove Street—which it does reliably every Sunday morning and evening, Wednesday, and Thursday—the racket is greater than that of the freight trains screeching through the heart of town. They say the windows are frosted glass so nobody on the outside can see what goes on inside. They say once you go in, you never come out. Many Pine Canyon legends are tall tales, told by people who have had a few too many Coors Lights at the saloon. But sometimes the legends are true.

Chapter 1, Once You Go In