The Church in the Wildwood

By: Steve Negley

Posted: March 4, 2015

Category: Daily Devotional

If you’ve attended our summer Sunday School adult classes over the past several years, or listened to the illustrations in many of my sermons, you probably know that I am a huge fan of the old “Andy Griffith” TV shows. If I could have chosen where and when to have lived my life, I might have opted for Mayberry during the early 1960’s.

One of the joys of living vicariously along with Andy and Barney, Opie and Aunt Bea, is watching the place that faith played in their lives. There is one episode of The Andy Griffith Show that began as a man from the city (The Man in a Hurry) has the misfortune (or maybe good fortune) of having his car break down outside of Mayberry on a Sunday morning. As a result, he is stranded in this slow little town for an entire day. As we watch his adventure, we are treated to a scene outside church, where many of our regular characters have just emerged from Sunday worship. And my favorite scene of all takes places after a Sunday meal, with “the man in a hurry” on the front porch listening to Barney and Andy play and sing The Church in the Wildwood.

There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood
No lovelier spot in the dale
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.

(Oh, come, come, come, come)
Come to the church by the wildwood
Oh, come to the church in the vale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.

How sweet on a clear Sabbath morning
To listen to the clear ringing bells
Its tones so sweetly are calling
Oh come to the church in the vale.

This hymn is forever intertwined in my heart with Andy and Barney, guitars and soft voices, and the joys of our coming together in God’s house for what God has promised us.

David, the Psalmist captured the feeling like this:

I was glad when they said to me,
 “Let us go to the house of the Lord!
(Psalm 122:1)

I felt that way in my own childhood. I still feel that way many times now.


Loving God, thank you for the open doors of your house, and the ways I am soothed and inspired when I find myself within those walls. Thank you for letting me come, come, come to the place that is so dear. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen