Here’s to you: 15-passenger church van

Great adventures need great transportation, and you, 15-passenger church van, taught youth groups everywhere what it meant to ride in style.

Jason and his team of heroes had the Argo, the X-Men had their Blackbird, the A-Team had Baracus and his van, and the Ninja Turtles had the Party Wagon. Yet, none of these rides held a candle to your power and elegance.

With muffler smoking and belts squealing, you struck fear into the hearts of parents everywhere. Cruising the streets on bald tires, you were more than an automobile, you were a symbol of hope in a dark world. For it was you who made church youth trips possible.

Summer after summer you would faithfully escort youth to camp, only to bring them back safely while they pined for their newfound camp romance. You spent many a long Friday night barreling down the road with SKA music blaring on your only remaining speaker and students fidgeting in anticipation for the concert they were approaching.

Like a silent Sunday School teacher, you instructed us in the ways of life. You taught us about patience when you would break down in the middle of nowhere on the interstate. You taught us to share; after all, you only had one backseat. Most importantly, you taught us how to synchronize our need to use the bathroom with 14 other people.

A foundational piece of our childhood, an ever-present rock during the storms of peer pressure and hormonal instability, you, 15-passenger church van, were never too tired to carry us when we needed you. We grew up bouncing around on your threadbare vinyl seats. It was during those formative years that we learned the need for “hand checks” and the art of holding inappropriate signs in the window so onlookers would nearly wreck. But you always had the final word, because painted on your back door were the words, “Follow me to ________ Church.”

Alas, with the passing of time and the clicking of miles on your odometer, our churches have moved on to fancier mini-buses, charters, and vehicles that require a CDL. Gone are the days of the big sliding door that just would not shut correctly. We will never forget you church van.

Thanks for the memories.

Here’s to you 15-passenger church van!

P.S. If you have no clue what this post is about, check out the first one

3 Comments

  1. corey said:

    In reviewing your comment about heroic automobiles like BA Barakus’ van it reminded me of other heroes and their HOV automobiles. Scooby Doo rode the Mystery Machine. Ms. Frizzle flew the Magic School Bus. Clark Griswold battled his wood-paneled Griswold-family station wagon. Cheech and Chong blazed up their moving truck, made entirely out of cannabis. Most of the Blues Brothers’ band had to ride in the van formerly belonging to Murf and the Magic Tones. Harry and Lloyd traded their Mutt Cutts van for a scooter with a better gas milage. The Partridge sang their way on the multicolored bus. The Ghostbusters employed a retired 1959 ambulance to rid NYC of its most heinous haunts. I could go on and on, but the point is there is something daring and intriguing about a vehicle that can afford >6 passengers. 15-passenger church vans are certainly no exception.

    September 7, 2011
    Reply
    • Keelan said:

      Corey… Wow. This might be the greatest compilation of hero rides I have ever seen. Truly a magnum opus sir.

      September 7, 2011
      Reply
  2. Nickie said:

    Keelan, having spent many Sundays riding in a 15 passenger van, I have to say I really loved this post. It brings back memories of Charlie jumping railroad tracks to see how many heads he could make touch the roof. There is one thing that was left out which your mother would say is an important fact. The beloved church van never had working air conditioning and was always driven by a man who was just a big kid himself. I suggest the next Here’s to you be dedicated go the church van driver or youth leader.

    September 8, 2011
    Reply

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