Praying Hands

“I remember watching this church being built.”

– Mrs. Felicia Rhetta Childress, confirmed in St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in 1955.

Produced by Perry Lerit.

Transcript for Praying Hands

I remember the people in St. Augustine’s [St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Gary, Indiana]. Flossie Alexander, and we called them Flossie and Fritz because the two of them, they were husband and wife, and they’d get on that phone and they would say, “You weren’t at church. Where were you?” You know? “Please come back. We miss you.” And so I stayed. I stayed with St. Augustine’s.

St. Augustine’s church was a little bitty church then. And it was on the corner of 19th and Adams. Very, very small church, but it was a lovely church. And the people—that’s what really got me. I have never seen people so devoted to their church.

We were right across the street from the fire station, and when the fire station got a call, they would—that siren would go off and we would have to stop whatever we were doing and wait till they were gone, and then we could—then we could pick up and, you know, keep going. That made the church members really want to move the church. So they—that’s when we—we worked hard and we did everything we knew how to do. We made pies, we did this, and we did that, and whatever we could do to make money so that we would build up an account so that we could sit down, and talk with an architect, and tell him what we wanted. And then, they had already found the land they wanted, so they began making a deposit on the land.

Now we had an architect we really liked. Edward Dart. First of all, we didn’t like the first drawing. He had a straight up and down and it wasn’t—it didn’t say anything to us. But we told him what we wanted. We wanted something that would give a feeling, you know, that we wanted about a church. And when he showed us this idea he had about—it reminded us of praying hands, and we liked that thing. And that was something. And I remember watching this church being built. Everything that he did–the pews, even the little sign out in front, he–is all his doing.

I’ve never seen a building with the acoustics that this building has. And you don’t realize it until the building is filled with people and the people are singing. Ball State came. Brought the whole group and they sang—they formed—they believed that architecture and music should be hand-in-hand together in worshipping God. And they brought that group, and that group, before they left, oh, they sang so beautifully. I remember seeing—the director came and brought his little girl, and he walked over all around this place and he kept his ear cupped so that he could get the sound. And he walked this building. His little girl was fascinated with that balcony right there. And they stayed, and he just wanted to see what he was going to be working with when he came. It stays with me forever. And if I could just get people to come and know what is here, it would be the most wonderful thing in the world.

– Mrs. Felicia Rhetta Childress, confirmed in St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in 1955.

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