Today’s blog post comes by way of Brenda Beachey, who grew up attending Rainbow with her siblings and parents, Bonnie and Jake. Brenda now belongs to Village Presbyterian Church in KC
“Of all the gin joints…”
OK… the Vox Theatre is not exactly Rick’s Cafe, but “Casablanca” likely played the Vox in the 40’s, after it originally opened as the silent Rosedale Theater in 1922. Why was I at the Vox tonight?
For the last few years, I have been thinking about getting involved with the Dominican Republic Medical Partnership (DRMP), an international mission program established by Village Church in the 90s. From our church’s web site: “The mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in the bateyes and barrios of the Dominican Republic and to promote sustainable health care efforts through partnerships. The DRMP’s mission is shaped y the gospel that bids us to love our neighbors, both near and far, as we love ourselves.” Village started this program in the 90s, but I don’t have any clinical skills so I have never really pursued it. I just didn’t know if I would be needed. However, as a wise friend said last night, “I just want to help”. Me too.
Anyway, back to the Vox. A few women from my Village Pres small group encouraged me to join them for the benefit last night. They had been last year and said it was a great event. They even offered to pick me up and sit at their table so I didn’t have to go by myself. Since I wasn’t driving, I didn’t look up the Vox on a map. When we turned onto Southwest Blvd and crossed the familiar railroad tracks, I got goosebumps. I told them how I had gotten stuck at the train at this crossing and been late for church as a kid too many times to count (no train tracks on the way to Village but I am still usually on the 5 minutes late side). I saw the Whitmore Playground coming up on the right; a beautiful family urban oasis built and maintained by the good people from my parents’ church. The park was buzzing with neighborhood families on this warm summer evening. Our car slowed and suddenly on the left I saw the bright orange VOX sign. We had arrived at our event. Last night’s Village Presbyterian event was held in Kansas City Kansas across the street from the stone church where my parents had been members (and my father is still an active member) for 50 years.
It is a place where a piece of my mother’s heart rests in their beautiful Remembrance Garden. So, how was it possible that I never noticed the Vox, the little jewel box with ornate pressed tin ceilings and a lush red velvet curtain, that stood right across the street? It had been there since the 1920s. Why did I end up in the shadow of Rainbow all these years later?
Well the DRMP event was a big success with great food, music, and generous people. I look forward to figuring out my niche and hopefully joining a trip to the DR in 2018. However, last night something (or someone) was tugging at me to sneak out before dark and take a walk down memory lane, aka Southwest Blvd to Rainbow Mennonite Church.
I visited my sweet mama’s brick in the garden and I walked up the steps to the front door and looked out onto the church front yard where I noticed their signs. In 3 languages the signage read, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor”. I looked back across the street at the Vox and thought about all the good people in this world who are doing their part to shine their light, share theirs gifts, and make the world a better place. I was at an event in the 1400 block of Southwest Blvd to be reminded of who I was raised to be. It was a God thing.
How was it possible that I drove by the Vox hundreds of times in my life and never noticed it? It turns out when the multiplexes became popular, the Vox closed. It became a run down nondescript building that housed a heating parts manufacturer, which of course was closed on Sundays. It wasn’t until in 2009, that Alistair Tutton purchased the building and brought back the name the Vox Theatre. Tutton remodeled the space to be used for his photography studio and an event space.
Closing reflections from Brenda:
As a kid I always thought it was so weird to drive all the way down there (SW Blvd) for church. It was actually only a 15-20 minute drive (if we beat the train😉) but it seemed a world away from my childhood in Northeast JoCo. Of course, looking back, so much of who I am was shaped by the same God that shows up anywhere two or more are gathered in his name. And more importantly, God needed the Beachey family to “do church” in that Rosedale KCK neighborhood. Today, I am so thankful for God’s grace throughout my faith journey and for all the wonderful congregations I have been fortunate be be a part of; not the least of which was my upbringing at the old stone church on Southwest Blvd, outside the suburban bubble.