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,
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.
Dona nobis pacem.
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.