Windows On Our World
August 2023 | Written by Maribeth Griessel
For the month of August The Porch will feature two stained glass windows from the sanctuary. The first is easily recognizable as a very old style lamp. As we read in the longest Psalm, the 119th, verse 105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Of course the symbol of the lamp reminds us of the true Light of the World, our Savior, Jesus Christ. In the parable of the ten virgins, the five foolish virgins neglected to have oil for their lamps. Literally, in biblical times small lamps were placed atop the toes of shoes to actually light the way along the path. The second window we present is the cross, and is found next to the front sanctuary stairway leading down to the choir room. Though it has been referred to as the “Westminster Cross,” it is often called the “Celtic Cross.” It consists of the cross of our Lord’s crucifixion with a ring/circle in the center. Some historians refer to the ring as a halo, while others believe it to represent the eternal, celestial circle.
As previously presented, Dr. James W. Teener was the first pastor of Gashland Community Church, serving from 1945-1951. He was succeeded by Reverend Norman J. Stanhope in 1951. But in this issue of The Porch, we will focus on members rather than pastors of our church, and we will begin with a Sunday in March, 1951. A young lady named Rosie Bateman had been invited by her good friend and neighbor, Kathryn Walker, to visit Gashland. A small area, adjacent to the bank which is currently located on the southwest corner of North Oak and Barry Road, might have been nicknamed “Little Gashland,” as it was home to many members of this church. The Walker, Barr, Henry, Williams, Straub, Farmer and Bagley families called this home, along with the Batemans. Many of these individuals were charter members of this new church. Having come to Gashland at the invitation of Kathryn and Luther Walker, Rosie and Drexel Bateman became members in March 1951. She is now the living member who has been at Gashland the longest, but we are quick to add this does not make her the “oldest” member of our church, age-wise, but rather the one who has been a member here the longest.
Prior to coming here, Mrs. Bateman had grown up in the Christian church, while her husband was a Methodist. This family has quite a history in the business community of the area. They owned and operated North Oak Furniture, which became Bed City, on N. Oak, and this venture is still in the family, now owned by grandson David Bateman, Jr. Rosie’s son, David, Sr., owns Bargain Barn (now known as Happy Rock Antiques) on 72nd Street at N. Wyandotte.
“Windows On Our World,” the title of this series of historical articles about Gashland, began this past January by featuring the “Rose Window” in the front of the sanctuary. Rosie has a beautiful picture in her home with her amazing family posed under this very stained glass window. During her lifetime at first Gashland Community, then Gashland Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Rosie has been quite active, including working with Sue Cox for 10 years in the nursery, as well as serving as a trustee.
During the two years when Rev. Stanhope pastored the church, something happened that she clearly remembers. There was a mere $36 in the treasury, insufficient to pay the minister’s salary. Drexel Bateman and Derwin (mostly known as “Buck”) Farmer went from member to member, passing the hat, so to speak, to collect enough money to pay the pastor.
Rosie notes, “I would highly recommend our church to anyone seeking a church home because our pastors preach from the Bible. Worship is absolutely necessary if we are to live a happy Christian life. What better place to worship than in God’s house along with other Christians?” And she adds that “It Is Well With My Soul” is probably her favorite hymn.
Just one month after the Batemans joined the church, two young ladies named Marian Anderson and Carol Ward (later to become Cooper) became members, along with their families. Marian grew up in the choir system, including the Chorister Choir (children), Youth Choir (junior high) and moving into the adult choir. She estimates she spent 35+ years “making a joyful noise unto the Lord”. In addition, this busy lady (who, we assure you, has never slowed down!) has taught Sunday School, served as both a trustee and an elder, helped tirelessly in the church office and worked with youth groups, including going on synod mission study tours. One time she taught a Bible school in Harlem in New York City. As one of her favorite scriptures, she cites the 121st Psalm. Though no longer participating in the choir, she does enjoy music, especially such songs as “In Christ Alone,” “The Servant Song,” and “I’ll Fly Away.”
Marian recalls when the sanctuary was being constructed and the wood for the uprights was brought to Kansas City from Oregon for the arches, the pieces were protectively wrapped in tar paper. One night a wild storm blew in (perhaps similar so some we’ve experienced this summer), and a piece of the tar paper blew off. his resulted in a stained spot that was visible on that particular upright for quite some time. She believes that “When people come to our church, they never really leave. The heart of this church has been Christ-centered. The real memories of this church are in the lives of the people who came here to worship, to teach Sunday School, to learn from Scriptures and to pray.”
Mrs. Cooper (Carol Ward) also participated in Gashland choirs, including the Angel choir (4-7 year olds), the Chorister Choir and the Junior High Choir. She has served 2 terms as an elder, 1 or 2 as a deacon, been a Sunday School teacher, co-director of Bible School, been in Women’s Circle as well as Women’s Group and gone with the youth on a float trip. Currently Carol and her husband, Tom, help with FirsTeam.
Romans 8:28 comes to mind as important to her, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” Carol also mentioned the very special “Footprints in the Sand” as being a favorite of hers. If she were to suggest to someone seeking a church home to try Gashland, she would direct them to the “Church with the red doors.” Marian added that at one time the red doors signified that people come to the Lord by the red doors, they enter through the blood of Christ.
Front left: Rosie Bateman
Front right: Martha Kuenzi
Back left: Marian Anderson
Back right: Carol Cooper
Nearly three years after Rosie, Marian and Carol came to Gashland, another precious family came here, Dr. Don and Martha Kuenzi. They joined in January, 1954. During her lifetime here, Martha taught kindergarten Sunday School for 5 years, served as an elder as well as president of the Women’s Group and taught Bible School. While many of you may remember Dr. Don singing in the choir, how many of you recall that Martha was also a choir member for awhile?
We read in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” This verse, along with John 3:16, is very important to Martha. She would never hesitate to invite people to Gashland, as it is “a Bible believing, teaching church.” Mrs. Kuenzi concluded with, “When people leave, I grieve. We are truly a family.”
And a family we are indeed….the family of God. Gashland EPC is part of this family, and has been built over the years on the foundation of Godly men and women, longtime servants of the Lord such as Rosie Bateman, Marian Anderson, Carol Cooper and Martha Kuenzi, with cumulative memberships of over 285 years!