Category: New Places for New People

OH! What a Tangled Web

In 2007, Jack (my late husband) & I joined Francis Street First UMC.  We were both raised as Methodists with parents that were active in our respective churches.  After attending several churches of different denominations in St. Joseph in our quest for a church we arrived at Francis Street First & immediately fell in love with the church and the people.  We felt at home.

I often wondered why I felt the connection with this church the way I did, but I never did anything about it.  I knew I was where I was supposed to be.

Now, this is where my story becomes a Francis Street First history lesson for both myself and you.  People who know me know I’ve always been interested in genealogy—a gift from my Grandmother.  As a result of this fact we are all going to follow the genealogy of this church.  Why you may ask?  Because the church’s genealogy & my personal genealogy are connected from the beginning!

While I personally was not born or raised in St. Joseph, my grandmother’s family came here in 1840 & earlier.  My grandmother’s great uncle (my third great uncle), Judge William C. Toole, came to this area originally in June,1836.   Once again you are probably thinking “so what”!   Just bear with me and I will explain.

In 1836, four brothers & three sisters of the Toole family of Kentucky, arrived in the Platte Purchase while it was still part of the Indian lands.  They were what you would call “sooners”, they were in effect “scoping out” the most promising lands.  However, they were stopped by government soldiers, who prevented them from entering the “promised land” because the treaty had not yet been signed.   What they did & where they went while they waited, I don’t know.  It was at least several weeks (read months) before they would be permitted to enter the Platte Purchase land as settlers.  Regardless to say they were among the earliest settlers.

Who are these four brothers, Edwin, Walter, Daniel Jr., and William C.?  Two were lawyers, and three were preachers—Methodist preachers.  Now, while you are sitting there thinking “she can’t add” let me assure I can.  The oldest brother, Edwin Toole, was already a lawyer when they entered the area and he in fact became the 1st Circuit Clerk of Buchanan County, being appointed in 1839 by Judge Austin A. King.  Edwin’s younger brother, William C. was admitted to the bar in Missouri in 1848.

Walter was a Methodist minister (preacher) in Macon, MO; Daniel Jr. was a Methodist preacher in the Southern Circuit; and William C. was also a Methodist circuit preacher.

Now, we will go into the genealogy of Francis Street First and get to know William a little better.  William joined the Methodist church as a preacher in 1838.  He was 19 years old at the time.  This was the same time that he came back to St. Joseph.  He visited all the rural communities in the surrounding area conducting religious services in the cabins of settlers, or under the trees.  It was reported in the St. Joseph Daily Newspaper of July 17, 1903, that he was probably the only living preacher, certainly the only one living in St. Joseph, who conducted religious services in the first log church of the town in 1841, which stood in the vicinity of Third & Jule streets, in what is now (1903) the wholesale district.

In the interest of time I won’t go into the details behind the split in the Methodist Church in 1844/45, however the church in St. Joseph didn’t split until 1849.  The split resulted in the American Methodist Episcopal Church, South and the American Methodist Episcopal Church.  By the beginning of the 1900’s the American Methodist Episcopal Church, South built a church at 12th & Francis and took the name of Francis Street Methodist Church.  At this same time the American Methodist Episcopal Church built their church at 8th & Faraon and took the name of First Methodist Church.   Both churches were referred to, and thought of, as sister churches.  In truth, their only differences went back to the issue of slavery and the members views on the subject!

Back to my third great uncle, Judge William C. Toole, at the time of his death, February 17, 1909, he was the last charter member of the First Methodist Church.  He was writing the history of the First Methodist Church which was completed by Dr. Charles J. English and placed in the cornerstone box and sealed into the cornerstone of the church on June 10, 1909 by Bishop William  A. Quayle.

If he were here today, I’m sure he would be so proud that the Methodist church he started preaching for in 1838, split over social issues of the day in 1849, and reunited in 1995 to become one church once again.  A church of compassionate members with empathy, sympathy, and compassion for each other and the community, able to celebrate 175 years as the Methodist Church of St. Joseph!

As a recipient of your outpouring of love, compassion, empathy, and sympathy at the time of Jack’s untimely death and my living nightmare I can vouch for this church and its members compassion and caring!   Thank You from the bottom of my heart.



Support the Youth!

Our Youth and Children Program Needs Your help!

In the end, we will be remembered for our acts. For the lives we touched and the causes we advanced. Our Congregational Life & Ministry Team (CLM) works very hard on developing the Children & Youth Ministry. If you attended our Celebration Service last Sunday you saw how active and excited our youth is. This was possible because of your continued support and prayers and the commitment of people who are committed to working with children and youth: Jennifer Tanguay, Candy Sheehan, Karen Gibson, Susan Gentry (Ignite), Mike and Mary Buckler, Cindy Allen, Karen Gibson, and Candy Sheehan (Carden Park Elementary). The Ignite program is a witness of our commitment and prayers for the future of Francis Street First. Youth Program is our legacy that continues 175 years of ministry. I invite you to support our Carden Park Elementary Partnership, IgniteSummer Camp, and Parent’s Day Out ministries for children and youth from the community around us that will include tutoring, field trips, nutritional lessons in partnership with the MO University Extension, and Girls Who Code Club for grades 3-6 and 7-12. You can either simply send us a check with a note “Children & Youth Ministry” or create a lasting legacy by including Youth Ministry endowment fund in your long-term financial plan.
The word “endowment” means your entire legacy gift will be invested in order to create an annual yield (4%, for example) to provide inspirational and educational activities to children of all ages. With an investment of $5,000, your legacy gift would annually provide $200 for our ministry to the children and youth. Your gift can be given to memorialize or honor a loved one, yourself, and/or your spouse and can be designated as a general gift or for a specific purpose that you or your spouse are passionate about. Your gift will live in perpetuity, allowing Francis Street First to continue providing the service to the community. If you are unable to establish an endowment fund today, you may want to consider establishing such a fund in your will. Either way, you will be ensuring that your cause will live, and children will receive spiritual education in a safe environment they need well into the future.

Pathway Against Poverty

Our partnership with Carden Park Elementary will be exciting this semester as we transition to the 3rd-grade classes and meet new teachers and children.  After meeting with the four teachers, who are two young men and women you could feel their enthusiasm and passion for teaching.  They all teach together in one large room, and it was evident that learning was happening all around you where 85 students were interacting with the teachers and one another.  It is a concept they designed together and you could tell it was a very positive approach to this age group. 

The teachers were very appreciative of our assistance and I inquired what their greatest needs were.  They are so happy to have us mentor the students. The greatest needs they have would be buses for field trips.  They have two scheduled this spring.  We sponsored the field trip to Shatto Dairy in mid-March, and also assisted children who were unable to pay for the event.  The other is in May to the Conservation Dept. on the MWSU campus.  The combined cost would be around $550.  They could use additional headphones for reading at a cost of $150.  Treats for incentives were discussed which would be approximately $50 and we could include a small Valentine treat as well.  The total for all of this would be about $800 for the spring semester and if we doubled it for all of 2019, it would be approximately $1,500 for the year.  

The needs are great at this school and our presence is truly appreciated.  They are eager for us to share in the success of their students and it will be so beneficial for everyone involved.  

Thank you for your continued support.


Mary Buckler

Shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased

As sci-fi author Spider Robinson wrote in his series The Callahan Chronicals, “Shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased.” Continuing with the story of Job, double the feeling of tragedy with Psalm 22. Drill down into Job’s overwhelming feelings of isolation, despair, defeat, hopelessness, and puzzlement that God would abandon anyone in their time of deepest distress. Affirm the need we have to protest the perceived injustice of God and the freedom we have to do so. Note the reality that life is not always fair. Job’s three friends sat with him on the garbage heap in silence for seven days. Perhaps they knew a bit of the pain Job was experiencing, even if their words were not too helpful. Remind folks that when Jesus quoted Psalm 22 on the cross, the women were there to share in his misery as companions who loved him even when it hurt.

Question: Why is it easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle?


Knowing the depth, height, and breadth of the love of Christ


For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Exploring the Text: In Ephesians, Paul envisions the mainly non-Jewish believers as a “dwelling place” for God. Today’s text is connected to the end of chapter 2 linguistically. Paul prays, for God to “fill” this new “dwelling place” that is the church (3:14). The mysterious language of “breadth, length, height, and depth” echoes OT texts that instruct about temple proportions. 

Verse 18: “height and depth”: Paul uses these words in Romans 8:39. In the context of Ephesians, these words describe God’s plan of salvation or, more likely, the love of Christ.

Verse 17: “Christ may dwell”: Usually Paul refers to the Holy Spirit as dwelling in people, but to him, the Risen Christ and the Holy Spirit are interchangeable (see Romans 8:9-11) because the Risen Jesus is the source of the Spirit (Acts 2:23).

Verse 21: “the church” and “Christ Jesus” are connected and inseparable.

The apostle prays for a church filled in every dimension by God, with and for the glory of God. Paul talks about the depth of our commitment, our breadth of vision, our vision put into action, that people (and we ourselves) may come to grasp how deep the love of Christ is.

Going Deeper: Both grace and mercy are in deficit in the world we live in. In our world, we’re much more comfortable with posting a sign like “No strangers allowed” that reflects the suspicion and fear of our time. But perhaps it is time for us to acknowledge our fear, confront it, and turn that very slogan on its head. We recognize that God loves and accepts all persons through Jesus the Christ, and therefore we do too. In the Kingdom of God nobody is a stranger, therefore in this congregation, nobody is a stranger. The result of such a depth of experience of God’s relating to us in love in Christ is that we may find ourselves called to tasks we had not dreamed of facing. How can we broaden and deepen our ability to love? How can we help others to experience God more fully and deeply? There again, it does always start and end with relationships, doesn’t it?

Prayer: Teach us the economics of kingdom living: a shirt-sharing, extra-mile-walking, have-my-lunch way of life. For then many shall be the richer. And we shall be among them. Amen.

Invest 5 Minutes In Your Faith

Last Sunday, the sermon called us to focus on the goal and ignore the obstacles. This coming Sunday’s sermon is based on 2 Samuel 6: 1-7 and encourage us to continue our spiritual pilgrimage. Too often we read the Bible based on “pick and choose” principle. Some verses make us uncomfortable. Others – inspire because they help us to prove our point in arguing with our neighbors and friends, even our family members. Should I say especially with our family members?  These verses are about what is God’s will and what is human will and how they collide.  2 Samuel implies that, as a result, David wants to stop resting and do something about that discrepancy.  He wants to give God’s ark a permanent home that is a temple that matches God’s centrality in Israel’s life.

What Does the Text Say?

The passage from Samuel begs the questions: Can God choose to be more fully present in some places than others? Is there a synergy between divine call and human response that makes certain times and places unique? It just doesn’t seem fair to David that while he lives in a palace, God’s ark lives in a tent. 

What Does the Text Do? Of course, David may also have a political motive.  Just as he’d once tried to make God’s ark a unifying force in Israel, he apparently wants to give a temple a similar role.  If, after all, David builds a temple in Jerusalem, everyone in Israel will have to come to “his” city to worship God. God’s covenant with Israel has been expanded to include all humanity. The law is no longer a dividing line, creating a chasm between the clean and unclean, but has been transformed to inspire and shape all humanity. Ephesians affirms that Christ is our peace, our unity, joining diverse and otherwise divided people into one community of love. There are no aliens anymore; all persons are encompassed by God’s covenant of grace.

What Should We Do? Leaders do not need answers. Leaders must have the right questions. The ethicist Margaret A. Farley challenges us to look for reforms that are needed today. She offers some questions to help.
Where is the apathy and what can awaken us?
Where are the old and the new springs of life and how shall they be released?

The secret to the Christian life is learning to hear His invitation and to respond without fear or hesitation. It is on our pilgrimage that we see the miracles unfold.

Father, give me a sensitive ear and a willing heart to participate in your works of grace. Amen.

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