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Calpurnia takes Jem and Scout to church with her in Chapter 12. The First Purchase African M.E. Church is situated at the 'Quarters outside the southern town limits, across the old sawmill tracks.'
Although the church is old and paint is peeling off the building, First Purchase is the only church in Maycomb with a bell and a steeple. It was originally purchased from the 'first earnings of freed slaves.' The soil in both the churchyard and cemetery area consists of 'brick-hard clay.' Crumbling tombstones mark some older graves in the churchyard, while newer graves are lined with 'brightly colored glass and broken Coca-Cola bottles.' Lightning rods over some graves provide the sense of a restless burial, while burnt out candles array the heads of some infant graves.
The church is dim on the inside as the kerosene lamps are not lighted. Pine benches serve as pews. Scout notices that there are no musical instruments, hymn books or church program leaflets at First Purchase. The pulpit is made from rough oak; behind the pulpit, a pink banner hangs, with words proclaiming that 'God Is Love.' This banner seems to be the church's only decoration. The only other decoration is a 'rotogravure print of Hunt’s The Light of the World.' At every seat in the pews, there is a Tyndal's Hardware Company fan.
The parishioners sing without benefit of hymnbooks. Scout later learns that only four people in the church can read, and Calpurnia is one of the four. The preacher offers the requisite prayers for the sick and infirm before his sermon. Scout notes that, although his sermon 'is a forthright denunciation of sin,' his primary focus seems to be the 'Impurity of Women doctrine that seemed to preoccupy all clergymen.' Unlike Scout's church, however, the preacher at First Purchase also calls out individual sinners on their misdeeds. After the sermon, a black, enameled coffee can is passed around so that money can be collected for someone in need.
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