Windows On Our World

May 2023 | Written by Maribeth Griessel

      Of this month’s featured stained glass windows, the first is easily recognizable. At the back of the sanctuary on the left/west side is pictured the Ark of the Covenant, sometimes called the Ark of the Testimony or the Ark of God. Yahweh gave clear directions for its construction, which can be found in Exodus 25:10-22. It would be made of acacia wood, covered inside and out by pure gold. The lid would be the “Mercy Seat” and above it would sit two cherubim, also of pure gold. Inside the Ark would be the two tablets of stone engraved with the ten commandments, Aaron’s rod that budded and a pot of manna. The second window described this month displays Hebrew letters, and is located second from the back on the right/east side.  My Jewish daughter-in-law has translated this as “Adonai,” meaning “our G_d” (God), “our Lord” or “my Lord.” Matt Martinie added, “I think it’s safe to say since it’s on this church window, the reference would be to God as lord or master of all.” 

      As previously reported, construction of the new church was through the amazing work of many strong men of faith, including names such as Straub, Henry, Moughler, Farmer, Williams, Clardy (yes, for whom a local elementary school was named), Henry, and Klemme. J. W. Irons did the intricate woodworking in the Chancel area. Look up and view the arched beams of the ceiling.  This wood came from Oregon and the beams were installed by the volunteer workers who pulled them into place using block and tackle attached to a strong oak tree located nearby.  Wouldn’t that feat have been exciting to have been witnessed?

     The year 1949 ended with Gashland Community Church rejoicing in its first worship service in the new sanctuary on Christmas Day, and the ensuing decade would begin a list of new milestones.  January 8, 1950, would find the congregation celebrating its first Communion Service.  The following month would be the time for Gashland’s people to gather to dedicate their beautiful new church building.  Dr. Robert I. Wilson of First Baptist Church in Kansas City delivered the sermon at this service on Sunday, February 19, 1950, at 4:00 p.m., where appropriately the processional hymn was “The Church’s One Foundation”.  Also participating in the service were Rev. R. Park Johnson, minister of Second Presbyterian Church, KCMO, Rev. Edwin E. Mace, clergyman of Roanoke Presbyterian, and Dr. James W. Teener, pastor of Gashland Community Church.

      As part of the dedication service, the minister and congregation read: “We, now, the people of this church and congregation, compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses, grateful for our heritage, remembering the sacrifices of the fathers, confessing that apart from them our work could not be made perfect, do dedicate ourselves anew to the worthy worship of God in this place and to the constant service of God in the Christian service of men.”  The worship service concluded with a joyous rendition of “Crown Him With Many Crowns.”

    Some differences are apparent when viewing an old photo of the original sanctuary, comparing it with the current version. There is a pulpit on one side and a lectern on the other, so the minister(s) did not deliver their sermons from the middle of the platform, as Pastors Cable and Morefield now do.  It can also be noted that the chancel area is a bit more narrow than it is currently.  The door on the left led to the pastor’s office, with the one on the right entering the choir room, complete with music library.  The choir “loft” was on the sides, rather than across the middle, as it is now. 

     Mr. and Mrs. D. W. Bishop were heavily involved in community activities, and especially in the development of Gashland Community Church.  They owned the Bishop Furniture Company in North Kansas City, and they resided at the Highland View Farm on Barry Road.  This farm property would later house Bob’s Grocery, and currently is the site of the Souder Funeral Home.  The Bishops presented a gift to their new church, a Hammond Organ, as a memorial to Robert Noble Starkweather and William Hayden Brown.  A dedication service was held on Wednesday, February 22, 1950, at 8:00 p.m., for this new instrument. 

      Long-time Gashland members, Marian Anderson and Carol Ward Cooper, had attended summer church school together in 1947, prior to the construction of the new building, when this congregation was using space at the old Gashland School.  Picture of church school, summer, 1947 (2)  On Easter Sunday, April 15, 1951, the two little girls and their families joined Gashland Community Church.  Now Marian and Carol, along with Martha Kuenzi (who, with her husband, the late Dr. Donald Kuenzi, would join a bit later), have been providing a wealth of information for this series of articles about the history of GEPC.  Without Marian’s spearheading the historical searches, these articles would not be possible.

      If you look back to the picture of the original sanctuary, you will see a small cross on the altar. Carol Cooper offers this story about its selection, “When I was about 10 years old, my name was picked out of a hat in my Sunday School class at our new church to go help pick out the brass cross that was to be put in the sanctuary.  Other people were picked out of other classes also.  I always thought it was special that I was able to do this.”  Though this cross would later be replaced with a larger wooden one, the original brass version is still displayed in the sanctuary.  Can you locate it?  

      Over the past approximately three quarters of a century, Gashland Community, ultimately to become Gashland Evangelical Presbyterian Church, has been blessed by the ministry of several devoted men of God.  Next month we will concentrate on naming these men and tracing their service here.

The original sanctuary, opened for worship on Christmas Day, 1949.

Marian Anderson’s summer Church School class, 1947.

The brass cross chosen for the altar in the early 1950s.