Rehobeth Logo  
The Southern-Fried Preacher       



Harold Bales, a.k.a.
The Southern-Fried Preacher

September 9, 2007: "Hello, Rehobeth!"

Recently, my friend Bob Kerr your pastor, asked me about the possibility of including my weekly column on your church web page. I was delighted by the invitation and now, here I am! Today, I want to tell you a little about how this column came to be and what you can expect in weeks to come. I have been writing for publication more than 40 years. So writing sort of comes naturally for me. However, about 20 years ago, when I was minister at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte, the religion editor of The Charlotte Observer, noting my "down home" style of writing, said to me, "Harold, you ought to write a weekly newspaper column and call it The Southern-Fried Preacher." Well, the idea appealed to me but I was too busy with other things and I let the idea pass. A bit later, my dear mother died. A few days after her death, I wrote an open letter to about 50 relatives and friends celebrating her life. I told about her great sense of humor and her love for God and the church and all of us. I told about her descent into Alzheimer's disease. And, I titled my letter The Southern-Fried Preacher. I said in my letter that I would send out ocassional letters whenever I had something else to say. It was free for the asking. I also announced that the motto of the newsletter was: "A bit of what's southern, fried or preachy, and more or less fit to print." Well, to make a long story short, legendary Charlotte writer, the late Kays Gary, got a copy of the letter and published it in his newspaper column. Within 60 days more than 3,000 folk asked to be on the mailing list. Eventually the newsletter morphed into a weekly column mostly for small-town newspapers. And now, I am very happy to have y'all at Rehobeth among the readers.

You will find that I write about whatever pops into my mind. Mostly I write about serious things with a light touch. There is always some serious motive behind what I write. However, sometimes by the time it comes off the press, I can't remember what it was. I write about pets, the weather, religious things, people, current events, neighbors, politicians, lawyers, farmers, sports, etc. Sometimes I cut loose and get preachy. People send me stories and sometimes I pass them along to readers. I just think of this as a weekly letter to family and friends. I consider myself on a personal crusade against the heresy of humorlessness. You recall, I'm sure, that in the old days heretics were burned at the stake. I am trying my best to put enough smiles on your faces to prevent you from going up in smoke. God surely has the greatest sense of humor of all, or I would have been struck by lightning years ago. However, I do have a fair amount of modesty about this column. Last year I had a computer crash and lost about 1,500 columns that I had written through the years. I managed to rescue only 252. I took this as a sign from God that most of this stuff isn't worth keeping. I'll let you be the judge of that. I know that it ain't great literature. I have several descriptions of it: Divine Rag, Blessed Beacon, Holy Handbill, Blessed Blurb, etc.

One more thing, sometimes people contact me to ask permission to quote some of this stuff — correction, "material." Permission not needed; help yourself. Feel free to pass along to others, anything that strikes your fancy. My only request is that you tell the story correctly. Nothing breaks the heart of a southern-fried preacher quicker than to hear somebody retelling one of his stories poorly. Oh, and one more thing: you will often find misspelled words and sorry grammar in these Elegant Epistles. Do not write or call me about that kind of thing. I put that in on purpose to test reader alertness. Also, it drives English teachers nuts! I loved all my English teachers. I even majored in English in college. But, even in my old age — I'm 65 now — I still get a perverse pleasure in watching refined, elegant scholars — as all English teachers are — flush bright red in the face and start to sputter. I've asked God to forgive me for this, but I found that God is annoyed by me on this point too. Oh, and one more thing. (We southern-fried preachers are notorious for having multiple "one more things" at the end of our orations.) You can reach me at if you would like to make a comment, tell me a story, or anything of that sort. If, however, you have any complaints, contact your minister, Bob Kerr. Anything that goes wrong in this column is his fault!

Rehobeth United Methodist Church • 9297 Sherrills Ford Road • Terrell, NC 28262
Copyright © 2007, 2012 Harold K. Bales
Used by permission