February found me working in the church archives assisting Sue Miller Malone, who
drove from Colorado to continue her genealogical research on ancestors who were
active members of Park generations ago. We were able to find some hand-written
journal pages from Rev. Thomas K. Beecher about two of her relatives, and we found
a photograph taken in the old church dated 1872 -- the building that was demolished
the next year to make way for new construction on the building we now inhabit.
It never ceases to amaze me what treasures I often find in the archives – things about
what Park has stood for in the past that continue to resonate today. Here’s one I just
found that reminds me of our contemporary efforts to educate ourselves about
housing justice in our city. This passage is excerpted from the annual membership
letter of January 1913 signed by The Reverends Samuel E. Eastman and Albert G.
The year has been one of growth and improvement in many directions.
The coming of Mr. Cornwell has added youth, vigor and enthusiasm to the
pastorate. Under his management the Sunday School has pursued a
course of completely graded lesson with profit to all interested. A class of
men approaching fifty in number with the unique name, The Park Church
Men’s Own, has been organized. That they are a vital force for the
betterment of the church and city is attested by their activities. In
cooperation with the Federation for Social Service they are making a
housing survey of the city, which, it is hoped, will form the basis of a
building code to be adopted by the Common Council...
So 110 years ago, Park was acting on its desires for “practical Christianity and
community improvement” even though three of its stalwarts: Reverend and Mrs.
Beecher and Rev. Annis Ford Eastman had died. As we move forward into the
pastorate of Rev. Gary Brinn, we too can find vigor and enthusiasm and new people
coming forward to join our efforts.
We continue to flourish because we combine compassionate friendships with a
willingness to embrace new people and new ideas. Our predecessors toiled and
established a legacy. It is more than our building – it is a reputation for community
activism. Can we keep up with our heritage? Only if we are never satisfied with the
status quo, but continue to question – “Is it just, is it fair?”
I hope you’ll join me on a walking tour of our building and our history on Sunday,
March 19th after worship. I especially want to design it for our newer members so they can learn about what efforts our history reveals as we walk through various parts of
our building. All are welcome to tag along......
See you next Sunday! Jenny