Saturday, January 29, 2011

Liberty EUB Church: Childhood

Childhood in Liberty involved the church frequently.  Every Sunday, the church bell served as a reminder, we were being called to worship.  I remember walking the two blocks to church with my dad and mom or my Grandma Jonas.  My Grandpa Jonas stayed home and prepared Sunday Dinner while listening to Rev. Harvey Hahn preach on the radio from the Methodist Church in East Dayton where Grandpa grew up on Steele Avenue.

The youngest babies were in the nursery during Sunday School and church service.  Women members organized a volunteer group to provide the nursery care, as in many churches.  Sunday School teachers were also volunteers. Clara Weaver, Lowell Schenck, Gladys Alread were some of the teachers I remember.

The neighbor kids all went to the church, too.  Donna and Peggy, Jimmy and Danny, Bobby, Sandy, Brenda, and Sylvia were there.  I don't remember if  David and Susie, Nancy and Judy, Patty, Billy and Freddy were there.

My youngest memories of church services involved playing with a toy car and lying on the floor under the pew.  I remember my Grandma ordering me to sit still over and over.  Maybe I didn't focus well enough on the service.  During the hymns and the Doxology, I enjoyed my Grandma's unique voice, which she used also to lead singing here and there.  The voices in Liberty included the unique sounds of Russell Wolf, Grandma Jonas, Frances Wolf, Jean Ney, and Gladys Alread and others I've forgotten.

Our pastor when I was 9 or 10 years old, Rev. John Bergland somehow learned that I was learning to play chess.  He invited me to the parsonage to play chess.  I was really impressed that the preacher would play chess with me.  He won in three moves the first game.  You're never too young to learn the "fool's mate".  I still remember how much he impressed me as a caring person and a leader.

Vacation Bible School (VBS) each summer was a highlight of the summer for me. We learned more songs, such as "Keep in Step All the time".  Moses in the bullrushes was a great story at Bible School.  Pharoah was not a nice guy.  Joseph was a great hero who was very forgiving after being betrayed by his brothers.  We made crafty items.  We pasted papers together with paste that we made and we also used glue to make a mess and hold papers together.  We painted with water colors.  Teachers and leaders included Grangma Jonas, Clara Weaver, Gladys and others. I remember Romita Allen was one of the youth age teachers who helped to teach me in VBS.  We memorized Bible verses.  We played Red Rover outside.  I remember being good at Red Rover.  (Did Jesus ever play Red Rover?)

More later (softball, woman with large goiter, junior and senior choir, more teachers, ice cream socials, volleyball, Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Liberty EUB Church: "Set Our Hearts at Liberty"

I often reflect on the meaning of Liberty Church in my life.  The earliest memory there is the wedding of Aunt Joy and Uncle Jerry when I was 3.  The wedding photo remains a classic in my memory and still resides on the Ankney (Grandma Mary Jonas family of origin near Versailles, OH) family Facebook site and Aunt Joy's Facebook site.  If you look, you will see my brother Mike and I all dressed up in suits as the ringbearers.
(click here for wedding photo and Joy & Jerry 63 yrs later) (and Mike and I with Joy after Jerry's passing)

Aunt Rose Marie "Crockey" Jonas (yes, that is her Liberty given nickname-later Goodheart and much later Lenk), my Dad-Art Jonas (Scud was his nickname), Jan Hoffman and Rev. Chauncey Varner are some of the people in this Dec. 1949 photo.

Later I learned that Joy had strep throat on her wedding day and my mother made Joy's dress and our suits.  In those days people made things for themselves and their family.  Women sewed a lot in Liberty. Families only had one car. TV didn't show up until the 1950's.  Life was different.

It was a small world for me, and very safe.  Liberty, a town of 100 or so people (counting dogs, we used to say) and one four-way stop in the middle of town ("the corner", as it was referred to by my Grandma Jonas, who lived next door to us on Walnut Street-known as "Back Street" to those who lived there).

Liberty Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB later became United Methodist) had a nice sounding bell that rang out each Sunday morning, calling all to gather.  So we did.  Sunday School was memorable as a child. We learned the great songs like, "The B-I-B-L-E",  "Jesus Loves the Little Children", "Jesus Loves Me" and many more.  Bible stories were told over and over as we celebrated the great message of Jesus and His love for us all.  David and Goliath always impressed us and the song about the five stones was a classic, "Only a Boy Named David"... and the giant came tumbling down.  I can still hear Gladys Alread's voice leading us in that song in Sunday School.  Many wonderful memories of Liberty EUB and Jesus and the people of the church.

From time to time, we would sing the Hymn "Love Divine All Loves Excelling" and I loved the phrase at the end of one verse, "Set our hearts at liberty".  My heart had been set at Liberty.  The meaning now is much deeper each time I sing that phrase.  I often thank God for that church, that town and those people.

More later