Frustrated that few church members seemed to read the weekly bulletin, Jones decided to employ aromatherapy. “I thought if it smelled good,” she explained, “they’d want to read it.”
What “it” was was the Sunday bulletin printed on a heavily scent-infused paper stock. Many said it smelled like a blend of skunk and nectarines with a hint of cherries. Very ripe cherries.
Jones took the drastic step because she was tired of the same people asking her the same questions about times and dates week after week.
“If they’re not stopping me outside the bathroom at church they’re calling me all week in the office,” she said. “I tell them over and over, ‘It’s all in the bulletin!’ but they won’t read it!”
Unfortunately, this first Sunday the scented paper was implemented, a couple of people had violent allergic reactions causing them to vomit almost as soon as ushers handed them their bulletins.
Usher Jack Henchar recounted, “Me and Harry [Borling] were standing on either side of the entrance to the sanctuary as we do every Sunday. That’s where you’ll find us every Sunday, for both services. We make sure everybody gets a bulletin, except for the kids who can’t read, of course. They just draw on ‘em or turn ‘em into paper planes and stuff.”
“Anyway,” Henchar continued, “Maggie [Josteen] and Sally [Abbot], who always come in together, came in the same time. Harry and I handed them bulletins like we always do. The smell didn’t bother us, we smelled worse in the Army, you know. So he gets one to Maggie and I get one to Sally and, Boom! Puke went flying everywhere! It was hilarious and disgusting all at once. I got out of the way just in the nick of time, but Harry was not as fortunate. Nope. Not at all.”
Making things worse, this spontaneous outburst then caused others in the sanctuary to also lose their breakfasts as the scents of vomit mixing with the heady aroma of the bulletins spread over the early arrivers.
Francis Abernathy, one of those who had arrived early, said, “I was barely tolerating the rotting cherry smell and it was just too much when the odor of puke filled the air. I tried to run to the bathroom but there were others with the same idea and none of us made it. I was mortified.”
Jolene Bradshaw, the head of the nursery who is also an Aroma Oils Goddess associate and member of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), promptly surmised what was happening and intervened, trying to bring the situation under control.
Bradshaw took charge of the remaining copies of the bulletin, ordered the ushers to collect those that had been handed out, and bagged them all inside of three plastic trash bags which were placed in the dumpster out behind the fellowship hall.
Explained Bradshaw, “Handling aromas is not for novices. It’s a science and an art. And it’s certainly not appropriate for the church bulletins! I don’t know what Elaine was thinking! She should have consulted with me. What a mess!”
Another man, who offered his unsolicited comments insisting on anonymity (others refer to him as, “Oh, yeah, him...” or “You know, him...”) claimed, “It was the Holy Spirit trying to cast out the hidden evil spirits people were a-harboring in themselves. I been a-prayin’ for lots of these folks for a long time. They just reek of bad spiritual fruit and stuff. Me? I always keep myself perfect with the Man Upstairs. And I wear three crosses just in case. Plus I work around hogs all day so I really didn’t smell anything to tell the truth.”
The following Monday, Pastor Paul Millicent asked Jones to take a short leave of absence from her secretarial duties and instructed those taking over for her that no bulletins be distributed for the next six months. Instead, all announcements will only be available projected on the screen in the service just prior to the first hymn and posted on the church Facebook Page.
When this news was relayed to Jones, she shook her head despondently and mumbled, “No one reads those either!”
It was later reported that the church janitor, Arthur Woolverd, insisted on bringing in specially trained hazmat cleaners to restore normal odor to the sanctuary. Said Woolverd, “It was like something from The Exorcist in there. And after talking to, you know, him, I weren’t about to touch any of, you know, that spewed out stuff. I shudder to think about it....”
While an ambulance was called, no one was taken to the hospital. Services and activities for the day and following week were all canceled.
*This is humor and fictional. But if you have had to manage communications for a church or any organization, you can probably relate to the frustration of people not reading your newsletters and other printed pieces. Does this story strike a chord? Please share your experiences and insights in the comments!