My Cousin's UPC Experience
After reading many of the experiences of former UPC-ers, I thought I'd share a story about an elderly cousin of mine. She's been in the UPC longer than there was a UPC. One of her long-time ministers is a relative of the long-time superintendent.
Being raised in Pentecost, she's always lived the doctrines of her local church, although by some, her church's standards may have been considered a bit liberal. However, there was never an issue with hair. Like the rest of the organization, it was expected to be uncut, and long. My poor cousin's hair has never been long. I don't think one strand of her hair was ever longer than 6-10 inches. This is due to the fact that her hair is very thin and brittle. It's all genetic, a pair of scissors has never touched her head.
Being a musician, she's had to convince every pastor she's had that she doesn't cut her hair. And as long as she's gone to church, she's overheard the whispers of fellow lifelong church goers that she chops her hair. She's often been denied the opportunity to participate in music at camp meetings and such merely because of the appearance that she's bucking a long standing Pentecostal tradition. Once when she came to the church I was raised in, my pastor refused to let her sing a special song (she has a beautiful voice, and the pastor would often let Pentecostal visitors participate in the worship portion of the service). My father tried to convince him that her hair was its natural length, but the pastor just nodded and smirked and said something to the affect of, "Yeah, right!"
Throughout all of this, my cousin has not lost her faith in the organization, and will be UPC until she's buried. However, all of the "spiritual abuse" has taken a toll on her self-worth, her soul, and her health. She's frequently depressed, and has a book full of health problems. Although I've seen the error of my former religious faith, she's chosen to hang in there. She's a true saint and martyr!
Even the "appearance" of not following their standards is enough reason for some in the faith to scorn and make accusations.
Posted March 18, 1999
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August 23, 1997
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