A Corner of the Vineyard
by Denise Johannsen
by Denise Johannsen
Colourful flared trousers, long wispy skirts, flowers in their flowing locks--the flowing locks were the fashion for both sexes. In fact, there were flowers everywhere. "Make love not war," was the slogan of the day. Smoking grass (marijuana, dried leaves of Indian hemp, rolled into a narcotic cigarette). Some injected themselves with L.S.D. (a potent and deadly drug), both causing the user to drift into a world of euphoria and illusions. "Hippies," [were some of] the youth of the mid-to-late 60s and early 70s. Music [was] also designed to "space" the listener out.
Following their pop star idol's example, many joined the Hare Krishna sect, with a shrewd old guru as their leader. He taught them that meditation was the key to the universe. The guru's entourage consisted of numerous bald headed priests attired in plain orange robes that reached to their ankles, showing their sandled feet; ringing tiny bells as they walked, chanting, "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna."
Prosperous times for the country and the western world on the whole. The age of Concord, a supersonic plane, which had been a joint venture between Britain and France. London to New York in two hours--the record still has yet remains unbroken.
Living conditions were now very good, and Blackburn was faring quite well. A majority of people enjoying full employment in the early seventies. But, by mid-seventies the rot was beginning to set in yet again. Most homes were now equipped with the latest electrical gadgets [like] automatic or twin tub washing machines, toasters, kettles, irons, stereo record players, and various other ingenious inventions.
Blackburn saints were still meeting up East Park Road, although the house had now been demolished. Unfortunately, it was riddled with dry rot and when the piano crashed through the ceiling, falling into the room below, members felt it was time to say adieu and beat a hasty retreat. They had moved into the old coach house, situated in the grounds. A one-story building, comprising of the following: Downstairs was a makeshift kitchen and a large room--this was used for Primary. A steep flight of stairs brought you straight into another large room, which was used as the chapel and social area. It also doubled as Gospel Doctrine. At the end nearest the stairs was a small room, which was the branch president's office, also used for Gospel Essentials. As there was a considerable amount of land, the saints in the late seventies submitted plans to the local council to build a chapel. Permission was denied, the council's excuse being, the architecture was not in keeping with the surrounding environment and did not blend in with the Victorian houses. That left them no option but to sell the land, and move into larger premises, as they had by now outgrown the coach house. A few years later, a flock of flats was erected on this site, conjecture being another demonstration of bias towards Latter-Day Saints.
1975, the membership in the branch had grown sufficiently to become a ward. There were around 60-70 attending Sacrament. Lessons were still being held at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings and Sacrament meetings [were] at 5:30 p.m. It was hard work, especially for those who travelled by bus. They had to walk up Preston New Road from the town centre, then the long climb up East Park Road to the chapel--especially [difficult], when you had little ones trailing behind. The day finally came, and the saints were full of emotion as Blackburn was declared a ward. Brother Cook became the first bishop of Blackburn Ward.
Apathy crept in amongst the saints. Satan, using one of his greatest tools--contention--set to work on the unsuspecting saints. One by one, good saints fell away, thankfully, many returned in the 80s. Sadly, some never returned.
The members that were left, stood firm. The olive tree was near full growth. The gardeners in the vineyard had to do a little pruning. The leaves and branches that were beginning to wither had to be removed to protect the rest of the tree. It must not be lost. It had to hold its own for a season. Then it would grow again to one day reach its full height, its full potential. Once again, the Lord's faithful guarded this tiny, blessed spot. Their sight set firm on the goal, their vision of the future--their very own chapel.