by Karen Gerber Gibson
How early are your memories of your church experiences? For the longest time back, I had vague recollections of an early experience I had, and I knew it was related to this church. I was passed from my Father’s arms into another man’s arms and then I felt water trickle over my head. I looked up in surprise. I also remember being taken to a room. That was the extent of the memory. A few years ago, it all fell into place when I learned the area where the choir lines up before entering the choir loft used to be the Pastor’s office and the niche in the wall was the memory of the room. You see, my parents went to the Pastor’s office to have my Baptismal certificate signed after having me Baptized that Sunday morning. I would have been about 10 months old. Dr. Powell was the minister at that time. He had dark hair and for some reason, I remember always being a bit standoffish of him. Not reasonable I know, but I think I was taken aback by being held by him and having water dribbled on me. Perhaps that is why the memory was in place for me.
I also have vague memories of the new building, the Youth Building. I was impressed by the infant baby crib area built into the walls like bunks. This is where the janitorial supply area is now. All of the rooms were filled with small tables and chairs in bright colors and there were so many children at that time that each room was for a different age or grade level. There was a lot of coloring and song singing, cookies. And Kool-Aid.
Another memory is that of being taken out of the church service by my father on a Sunday when I suppose I was not as quiet and behaved as I should have been. We went out into the sunshine and he sat on the steps at the corner of 12th and Francis while I was allowed to climb up and down on the two lower steps until the church was out. Other times I was content to sit quietly beside my Mother and admire her beautiful fingernails, manicured and painted a bright red, which was in vogue at that time. I would also fit my hands into her white gloves as a past time. All of the ladies came to church wearing gloves and hats.
My Aunt Sherrie is eight years older than I am and when she was 13 and I was 5 she was entrusted to bring me to vacation bible school. My Grandmother would bring us to the church in her automobile and when vacation bible school was over Aunt Sherrie and I would ride the city bus to the Dairy Queen on St. Joseph Avenue. We would each get a nickel ice cream cone and walk the rest of the way home. During that week I remember an incident where we were being served red Kool-Aid in small glasses, not paper cups. A rather mischievous boy was sitting at the end of my table and he bit the glass, breaking it. To my horror, I looked on as the two teachers scrambled over to him to be sure he wasn’t injured and to try and clean up the sticky mess. The little boy was laughing and enjoying the scene and I was sure my eyes were bugged out taking it all in. I’ve often wondered if that little boy was Glenn Gibson, whom I married years later. When I ask him if he did that says he doesn’t recall anything but admits he can’t remember what he had for lunch either.
What I know is that I was told, taught and believed that Jesus loves me. Through my family did not attend every week I was part of the Church whenever I was brought by either my parents or Grandmother. There were several very large adult Sunday School Classes which were their own ministries in themselves and many of the families had children of various ages filling the rooms, so many that one could not know each and every as intimately as we now know each other. Dedicated ladies and gentlemen ministered to each other as much as the Pastor did. When my Father died at the age of 35 and I was 9 so many rallied around my family. Sadly, my Mother at age 33, widowed did not attend Church often. I came when my Grandmother brought me. When later I could drive, and music became an important part of my life I returned to sing in the choir, and I had a purpose to serve in that way. I always knew that no matter how often I came or how long a time in between, I was welcomed at this Church. I feel more a part of it as time goes on and cherish every memory I can, wishing that more of those deep buried long ago times could be recalled.
Karen Gerber Gibson