Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Chapman Church

Over the weekend my mom and I took a short trip to her tiny hometown of Chapman, Kansas. Chapman is sort of in between Salina and Manhattan and was relatively unknown until a tornado hit the town on June 11 of this year. We'd seen much of the resulting devastation when we were back for my uncle's funeral a few weeks ago. The center part of the town doesn't even look the same since all of the old houses are completely gone. The house where my mom's grandparents used to live and about 59 other homes were completely destroyed and have since been razed.

Two of the three churches in town were badly damaged as well, including the church where my mom grew up. Mom was baptized, confirmed and married in the Lutheran church in Chapman, and my grandmother's funeral was there as well. When the news came last week that what's left of the 119-year-old church building would be torn down soon, Mom and I decided to go to the disposition service on Sunday.

It was a nice service which commemorated the history of the church and yet reminded the parishioners that the church building isn't what makes a church body. They opened a time capsule and looked through most of the items inside. It was a beautiful day, despite the wind that threatened to blow away the fragile papers from the time capsule! Hopefully the service helped many people say goodbye the church and will help them move on to the next chapter in the life of their congregation.

Before and after the service I took tons of pictures of the building and of the town--some of the damage and some of special memories for my mom. Strangely enough, there was actually a picture of me taking pictures in the Salina Journal the next day. Had the photographer not asked my name for the paper, however, I don't think I would even be sure it was a picture of me! I'm certainly not that tall and thin in real life!

After the service, Mom and I finished our 10 mile training walk for the day walking around Chapman, visiting homes and sites from her childhood. I especially enjoyed our visit to the city park and pool, where I spent many hours playing as a child while visiting my grandma, uncle and cousins. We stopped by the home of my grandmother's best friend, who is an amazing 97 year old woman who looks like she's 80! We stopped by the site of my great-aunt Edna's home, which was next to the home where my mom lived until she was five. Edna's home was also was the first house in town hit by the tornado. On the way out of town, we stopped back by the site and took some pictures, getting busted by the new owner, who wasn't very happy about us being on his property! Once we told him we were relatives of Edna's, he was very kind and stood and talked quite a while. He talked about how the tornado moved Edna's house into his living room across the street, and how he came over to the remains of her home after the storm fully expecting that she had been killed. She was so lucky to have survived!

Our visit to Chapman was quite an enjoyable lesson in the history of my mom's childhood, and I had a great time taking pictures, and yet it also made me very thankful I didn't grow up in a town of 1300 people! Enjoy the pictures of our day below!

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