20 June 2015

That's History: Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was a pretty white church with a steeple on top.
In time, the Baptist church members would build another one, then add on to the new church
 and this historic building would be moved to the city's park where it would be preserved for the generations to come.
And that's where I found it on one of my multiple family history research trips to Gresham,
where some of  my Oregon Trail pioneers settled and where their house,
though extensively remodeled, still stands today.
What stories this church told those who paused to listen ---
tales of sermons, worship songs and prayers,
joyous weddings,
sad funerals...
about families and individuals living in community with one another through good times and bad.
Stories of life.
Can you hear them?

Alas, these church walls can no longer speak to us or to anyone.
You see, about a year after this picture was taken, an arsonist silenced them --
No more pretty white church in the park.
No more stories.
Sad, how a violent act of one or two can affect a community for a very long time.
Can affect the many generations that follow who come to connect and remember their family's past.
I've seen it happen with this church,
 and in a cemetery my son and I once photographed years ago as a RAOGK volunteer.
Vandalism,  arson, destruction.
Truly selfish, senseless and loveless acts.
But, as I type this, my mind is on another historical church miles away from here.
A selfish, hateful act took its sad toll there this past week...
not on a building, but on the people who gathered there
 for peaceful prayer and study.
Sad. Incredibly sad.
Prayers for those touched by this senseless and cruel act of violence
that God will ease the aching of their hurting hearts.
May God bring some good from this evil.
Prayers also for the young man who took so very much from so very many.
May he someday find forgiveness and saving grace from the One who freely offers it.
Kyrie eleison.
Dona nobis pacem.
Blessings, Aimee
Bethel Baptist Church, photo taken with my old camera in 2003
(found a beautiful pdf article on the church, but am no longer able to access it.)
(article, written by a descendant of Peter Engles who helped build the church. Has another
photo of the church, without the steeple--not sure when this was taken. Also has some very neat historical photos of the family.)
RAOGK=random acts of genealogical kindness. Their website is here:
Next: a happier post. Peace.


Becky L. said...

A sad situation that a church is a place where people gather then someone comes in and shatters the peacefulness and sanctity of life. Prayers for the people who lost much there. Thank you for your thoughts and photos and information about the church and family in your blog. I will read more on the link you posted soon. Have a good weekend!

Teresa Kasner said...

I just don't understand arson, destruction, vandalism, and murdering good people in a church. I'm glad I don't understand, actually.. I would not want to think that way. Hugs, T

Linda W. said...

That little white church is so cute! Too bad some selfish yahoo had to ruin it for everyone. I was shocked and saddened by what happened this week. To attack people in their house of worship is the lowest of the low. I do hope some good comes of this awful act.

P.S. On a happier topic - I like your new header photo!

Bethany Carson said...

This is so sad to hear that someone would burn down such a beautiful, historic church and others would vandalise a cemetery. Some people have no respect. It's even sadder yet that someone would take the lives of others as they worshipped. My prayers are with the families that lost loved ones. There is so much sadness and evil in the world today, and some people seem to take pains to add to it. I guess we have our work cut out for us trying to bring God's goodness, love, and joy to a fallen world...

Ah, and now I'm reminded of the line Max always uses in Get Smart after some villain meets his fate, "If only he had used his [genius/skill, etc.] for niceness instead of evil!"

Betsy said...

That is a beautiful pictures and I'm glad you found the church before the act of arson that destroyed it. I'm also saddened beyond words for the act of violence last week. What must it take to reach such a place in your life to think that an act like that is okay? The young man definitely needs to know the One who can redeem his life.
Thank you for this beautiful post.

aimee said...

@Becky L~
It really is a sad situation. TY so very much for adding prayers to all the ones already being said across our nation! Have a good, good week!
Blessings, Aimee

Well said! wishing you a good week as well:)

Yep, it was pretty cute. I would have enjoyed seeing the interior but sadly never got a chance to. I share your wish that good will come of the murders last week and I think some already has.
TY! That picture was taken in the area of the Necanicum Estuary--love it there:)
Blessings, Aimee

I agree. When we lose historical buildings and such, it's sad, but to lose it from someone's purposeful actions is beyond words. Yes--totally agree! TY also for your prayers for the familes. I am sure many others are praying...
Totally agree...our prayers and small acts of kindness can be a tribute to those who died and, hopefully, point others to God who can heal their pain and this world.
Love it! I didn't remember that line and used too watch Get Smart all the time:)
Blessings, AImee

Thank you! I am glad I was able to see the church before it burned down. I think everyone feels a bit shell-shocked about what happened in SC. I used to attend an integrated church in Portland a long, long time ago...everyone was welcome there, as we know this young man was welcomed at this church. Cannot imagine anyone returning such evil for love, but we live--as Bethany said--in a fallen world. Heartbreaking. May God, as many of the family members said, have mercy on this young man's soul and may he surrender his life to the God of forgiveness.
Blessings, Aimee

Everyone--thanks again for your very thoughtful comments. Blessings, Aimee

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

A lovely post Aimee. The tragedy has been so much on my mind but my writing talents are not adequate to express my feelings. You did a beautiful job. Thank you, I am glad I read this.

aimee said...

Thank you. You are most kind! I think this tragedy has been on a lot of people's minds. I just pray that God will turn all this pain and immeasurable loss into something good.

Sammy Sam said...

Hi Aimee, it's a wonder that the people who do these sorts of things are worse than what they have done. They probably don't treat animals well either.

aimee said...

They certainly don't have hearts of love or compassion. We will learn more about this young man in the coming months I am sure.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Hi Aimee ... Just back to say hi from Oregon,YAY! Hope all is well and thank you for your nice comments recently (and always).

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Such a sad situation. I love your pics of this old church. It is beautiful! Hope you're having a great summer and managing to stay cool. Blessings, Jackie

aimee said...

Welcome home! You are most welcome:) Just been really busy trying to get some stuff done around the house---hence the lack of posts and comments lately.

It is very sad. Such a loss...
Thank you! I am really glad I did get a chance to see it before it was destroyed. Ahh--the heat. I shall be very glad to get back to our normal temps soon:) Hope all is well with you, the baby and all too!

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