Thursday, March 15, 2012

Foursquare faces

This photo of a 1950s vacation Bible school group in front of Chariton's former Foursquare Gospel Church came to the Lucas County Genealogical Society last week via e-mail from Lois Brower, who thought others might enjoy searching for familiar faces. If you're interested in trying, right-click on the image and open it in a new window.

Brower was able to identify some in the group as relatives. "JB," standing in front of the door, is her father, Jack Brower, and "MB," to his left, is James Howard "Macky" Brower. "EB," standing at Macky's left, is the boys' mother, Edna Lois Lovell-Brower. Sadie Bishop and Evelyn Bishop are elsewhere in the photo.

Brower also included this clipping from a Chariton newspaper, probably dating from the early 1950s, of a photo of the Foursquare church under construction.

The Foursquare Church still is there, but located at the intersection of 5th Street and Armory, rather than Linden, as the clipping states. Its congregation has, however, shifted its affiliation from the Church of the Foursquare Gospel to Church of God, another Pentecostal denomination, this one headquartered in Cleveland, Tenn.

A two-paragraph history of the congregation in Lucas County's 1978 history dates the congregation from about 1950 and identifies long-standing members as the Bishops, the Spoons, the Logdons and the Gullions. Jack Blubaugh was pastor in 1978.

The Church of the Foursquare Gospel, as with Pentecostalism in general, is an entirely American religious development that now has spread worldwide due to enthusiastic proselytizing. The fascinating development in Lucas County during recent years has been the arrival of hundreds of Slavic Pentecostals from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other former Soviet republics. Their numbers here now vastly outnumber the congregations of the at least three "American" Pentecostal churches --- Truth Assembly of God, House of Prayer United Penticostal Church International (the newest) and the Chariton Church of God.

Of all the Pentecostal denominations, Foursquare is my favorite primarily because of its founder, the vivid and occasionally scandalous Aimee Semple McPherson (above). Although no longer represented in Lucas County, her creation now claims some 8 million members in 144 nations.

Chariton's Foursquare Church is, I believe, the only church that developed in an area of town formerly known as White City --- back in the day when folks still worried a little about which was the "right" side of the tracks and which was the "wrong."

The source of that name is obscure, but the best explanation I've heard is that it derives from the rows of compact white houses built there for coal miners as that industry resurged to the north an east of Chariton after the turn of the 20th century, stretching out to Olmitz, Tipperary and Coal Glen in Pleasant Township. There was a time when miners who lived in White City need walk only the short distance to the Rock Island depot to catch special trains to their work in the mines.

What now are Union Pacific tracks still divide this pretty and hilly area of east Chariton from the rest with the Linden Avenue or Old Highway 34 underpasses offering the only access from the west.

1 comment:

Martin said...

We can also use east Court, under another viaduct to get to the "East Side"