Month: May 2019

The Holocaust

by Marsha Rosenthal

Thursday, May 2, 2019, was Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorating the victims of the Holocaust (the Hebrew word for the unforgettable day is YOM HASOAH).  “Holocaust” from the Greek words “holos” (whole) and “kaustos” (burned).
The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior”, were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.
The Holocaust was a genocide during World War II in which Nazi Germany murdered some 6 million European Jews between 1941 and 1945.  The Nazis considered Jews to be the main danger to Germany.  Jews were the primary victims of Nazi racism, but other victims from Poland, Hungary, gypsies and the LGBT group as well as other victims of ethnic and racial hatred.
In 1939, Poland was taken quickly.  Russians and Germans worked together.  In June of 1941, Germany broke the pact with Russia and took over.
The Jewish people were identified by wearing yellow stars on their clothing and were gathered together in ghettos.  Jewish businesses were marked and people were not allowed to enter.
It was dangerous for other people and families to show compassion to the Jews.  They were victimized.  Some were eager to catch a Jew and take them to the Gestapo, and they thought they were being patriotic and loyal to the Nazis.
The ghettos were staging areas of transportation to Concentration Camps.  There were a total of ten concentration camps in Germany, Poland, and Russia.  One of the camps, Auschwitz in Birkenau, Poland, did much to exterminate the Jews.  Six thousand Jews a day were shot and fell into a long trench that they were made to dig out for own burial.  Crematories burned as many as 10,000 a day.  Over 1-1/2 million children under the age of 16 were exterminated.
Nazis killed children and women of child-bearing age so they could not reproduce.  They killed the elderly and ill because they were of no use to the Nazis.  In 2 months of 1944 and 1945, Hungarian Jews went to Auschwitz and were gassed.
Today we face an alarming rise in Holocaust denial and anti-semitism. Approximately 41% of Americans know nothing about the Holocaust.
All the people who have survived the Holocaust are profoundly different than how they would have been had they not lived through that horrendous period of time.  Forgiveness is not a word that comes to mind very easily.
Every community in America must be made aware that the Holocaust DID take place.  We must never forget, and we must not let a Holocaust ever happen again.

A Baby Boomer’s Early Memories

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




Early Memories by Susan Welsh Wright

I remember so many things about my life at Francis Street 1st United Methodist Church that I don’t know where to begin. My parents and I joined the church in 1954-wow! – 65 years ago, how time flies. We were a very large church here in downtown St. Joseph at that time. I always loved this beautiful church-I think it’s the most beautiful in town.
At that time, we had so many young people our MYF was always full of Middle school and High School youth. We did so much as a group.
At the time Dr. Powell was the pastor and he had four boys and one daughter. Zoey was her name. His son James, who was a couple of years older than I was, had an old blue Chevy convertible and he always took some of us home after MYF. Of course, we always had to go to Wades Indian Grill on Mitchell Avenue. He always had a BRAIN sandwich and we would all go “OH YUCK” how can you eat that. James said because I like them, and that made sense. We needed money for our MYF, so we had paper drives. At that time paper paid really well to recycle so we would announce in church that we were going to have a paper drive the next Saturday. Then we would drive by members’ homes and pick up their papers. We would take James’ old Chevy and by the time we were finished collecting papers that poor car was loaded down so much that we almost bottomed out in the rear end. We had such great times and I wish the youth of today could experience that kind of simple joy! I believe all 4 of the Powell boys became ministers-not sure about Zoey.
When I was in High school, I was so blessed to be in this church. One of those years I was chosen to go on the Missionary Education Tour. We went East to Boston, New York, Maine and so many other places on our trip there and back. We had 32 girls from around the area and 2 adult women and George, the bus driver. He was a hoot and we all loved him. He went everywhere we did and had a great time. We got to eat lobster in an Old Cape Code restaurant. The table was huge, and George and the Chef showed us how to eat giant lobsters. We had our crackers (I think that is what they were called), and a pick to take the meat from the shells. Then we dipped the pieces into a bow of real butter! First time eating lobster and what a great time we had.
We, of course, did not stay in motels or hotels but slept in the basements of Methodist Churches along the way. I remember in Boston we were in the basement of the church and around 1:00 in the morning the organ began to play upstairs. You don’t think that wasn’t a frightening experience?? The ladies told us all to go back to bed. We found out the next morning that sometimes the organist practiced at night, since he worked someplace else during the day. We all laughed about that many times.
We went on to New York and stayed in the basement of another Methodist church there. It was raining the next morning and when we went to get back on the bus there was a DRUNK lying in the gutter passed out! We had to jump over him to get inside the bus. That is when I decided I didn’t want to drink and end up in the gutter. As we drove through skid row, that awful part of New York, we saw dirty drunks passed out on the sidewalk. Other drunks would take off their shoes, coats, or whatever they had to run down the street to buy more liquor. What an eye-opening experience that was!
When in New York we went to the UNITED NATIONS and received a guided tour explaining everything to us. Also, we got to go see the Radio City Rockettes perform on stage! It was a beautiful performance.
We visited the Methodist Missionary offices in all the cities that we visited. We were gone 14 days and were very tired when we got home but what experiences we had.
I hope that God will bless this wonderful church and the people in it and let it grow again as it has in years gone by.

One More Hour


I was not with my father the morning of his passing.    I wish I had been.  But my being there would have made little difference.  He was weak and frail and emphysema had slowly robbed him of his breath.  I would not have been able to save him.  It was just time for him to go.

My Dad called me on my 46th Birthday.  Three days later he was gone.  The last thing I said to him, and he to me, was, “I love you.”  I’m thankful for that.  But I realize not everyone has been blessed with the opportunity to say these final words.  Despite this, when speaking of him to others, I often say, “I wish I had one more hour with him.  Not to somehow pull him back from deaths doorstep, but to speak to him of things left unspoken.  I have thought often of this and wondered, how many of us have longed for the same thing.  For our long-dead father to suddenly be standing there in your doorway.  For the doorbell to ring.  You walk apprehensively to the door, wondering who in the world could be ringing your doorbell at this hour.  A little annoyed because it is interrupting the football game on TV.  You open the door and there he is.  Would he look tall and strong as a young man, or would it be frail and weak, unable to catch his breath?  Would it matter?  What would you say to him? What would be your first thought?  Your first reaction; shock, disbelief?  Would you shout in delight, fling open the door wide and hug him with all your might?  Would tears come? Or would you be overwhelmed by a mixture of awe and mystery?  One thing is for sure, the football game would be immediately gone from your mind.

Of course, you would say to him, “I love you Dad.”  “I’ve missed you.”  Then he looks at you says, “I love you too.”  “But I’m here now, so what did you want to tell me?”  Perhaps the tears, the awe, the mystery, the words, would all come in a rush.  Your mind and thoughts suddenly on overload.  Until finally you slow down long enough to really consider what you want to say.  So what would you say?  What words would come to express how you felt about him or what you have longed to say but never got the chance?

Perhaps you would begin by telling him about his grandson and the man he has become.  How proud you are of him.  How proud he would be of him.  How you are often amazed at how he can adapt and figure things out.  “Just like you used to Dad!”    No longer the little boy, but a grown man with a family of his own.  How you hope that you have been and will be that kind of grandfather and father he was.

You tell him how sorry you are that you were not with him the morning he died.  To bid him farewell one last time.  To hold his hand and touch his face just as he did for you the day of your birth.  To offer words of prayer and encouragement to help him on his way.

You want him to know how much you regret not having lingered with him a little longer on the front porch of his home.  How you wish you could redo those times when you were in a hurry to leave because of this stupid reason or that stupid reason.  You could have stayed and chatted with him a little longer.

You tell him that for you, the words Dad and home mean the same thing.  That home was always where he was.  Despite your travels, you knew that he was just a telephone call, or a drive, a flight away.    That despite the stresses of your work and personal life, you could always find him sitting on his front porch waiting and watching patiently for your return.  You’d sit with him there and chat about the weather, or politics or some other equally minuscule and unimportant thing.   How he would listen quietly and occasionally offer a comment or bit of advice.

But mostly you’re sorry you never really told him of painful things in your life.  The stresses and doubts about your career in law enforcement.  The horrible things you experienced as a cop.  How you grew cold and unfeeling.  A cynical uncaring robot is unable to feel or empathize with the pain of others.  Your fear that the job was slowly robbing you of your humanity and with it your family.  How demons come sometimes at night to taint you.  You fitfully toss and turn until the morning light signals the start of another day.  You don’t tell him about the emotional distance that has developed between you and your spouse.  How every day you fear it will be your last as a family.  You don’t tell him about the depression and despair that has taken over your very soul.  You don’t tell him because you think he would think less of you.  That you would be a disappointment to him.  That you are not being the man you should be or expected to be.  That he would stand up and with disgust in his voice say, “What the hell’s wrong with you boy?” But you know now that he would have done and said none of those things.   You regret that you robbed him of the opportunity to have listened quietly until you were finished.  And then simply said, “I love you son.”  “Whatever happens or you decide to do I am on your side.”   You are so sorry that you thought so little of him to have not trusted him with your pain.  You want him to know that you deeply regret not giving him the opportunity to express his unconditional love to you.

He looks at you for a few moments and then says, “I knew all those things already son.  You didn’t need to tell me.  That’s why I always waited patiently for your return.  There was nothing you could have said or done to have caused me to love you less.”

Your vision becomes blurry as you tear-filled eyes look at him with awe.  You sit there with him quietly until finally, he says, “Son, I have to go.  The hour is up.”  You beg and plead with him to stay.  You tell him the world is so much better with him in it.  Perhaps at that moment, as he bids you farewell and the door quietly closes behind him, you fall to your knees and ask God for one more hour!


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.



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