April brings fresh beginnings along with celebrations, birthdays,
and this week a wedding anniversary.
Our daughter, Victoria RuthAnna Moxley and Joel Burton Walker
were married 8 years ago on April 18th at “The Old Church” in downtown Portland.
Many memories of weaving family together were fashioned on
that day that go back several generations.
Less than a 100 years ago, my Grandmother, Mable Sweet Clark Stevens,
played the original pipe organ in the Sanctuary of “The Old Church”,
in the 1950’s for church meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention.
But, there is more…
The Organ boasts quite a history of its own.
It was designed and installed in 1883 in by Hook & Hastings,
a prominent organ building firm in Boston,
as a gift from the “Ladd Family”,
to the Calvary Presbyterian Church, in September of 1882.
Unique in design, it was and remains, a tracker-action organ
which indicates mechanical connections.
No electricity is used to produce the distinctive pipe organ sound, as it is ‘hand’ pumped.
The organ itself was the first pipe organ in Portland and remains intact to this day.
Purchased in Boston, it was delivered via boat, around the horn to San Francisco.
From there it was loaded onto an ox cart to travel north; at the time,
Portland’s railway system had not been completed.
The organs new home was being built west of the main city.
Far out in the country, open fields, encompassed by the Northwest forest,
made the perfect setting for the
Sanctuary’s opened doors,
on September 11, 1882.
It is not hard to imagine coming to the church in the wildwood,
carriages pulling up to the portico ~ releasing women in their Sunday best.
The Baroque style window moldings, enchanting Renaissance columns
and bell ringing belfry tower encouraged local residents to travel
“far out into the country”
to enjoy this captivating place of worship.
We were thrilled when Joel and Tori chose this historic church for their wedding;
not just because of the classic beauty of the structure,
but because it would be adding another memory to our family history.
The 1950’s brought more to this building than my Grandmother playing the organ.
The church family embraced a young widower with an enormous burden.
Ruth Nichols Moxley (Darrell’s Mother) passed at a young age after battling cancer.
Loman (Darrell’s Father) was left with five boys and a determined heart to follow God.
(David is missing in this picture as he was being cared for by another family.)
I would like to honor Loman, at this point, for feeding, dressing andbringing the boys to church every Sunday by himself, as was his custom.Family tragedy never deterred him from the purpose of his heart.
Loman eventually migrated with a group of fellow believers
from the mother church on the east side of town,
“Lincoln Street Baptist Church”,
to start a new work on the west side of town.
It was to be called “First Southern Baptist Church”.
Meeting in an old building on the corner of 11th & Clay,
it would later become known as “The Old Church”.
As “Fate” would have it, at the new location,
there was an attractive young woman from Texas who had pioneered
to the Great Northwest to attend Seminary.
She had hopes of becoming a missionary in some far distant land.
Soon, a romance blossomed and the calling turned to the mission field at hand.
Five boys and a wedding. In that order.
The wedding took place on October 14, 1952.
It was the first wedding to ever make the front page of the Oregonian, a real novelty at the time.
Loman, Thelma, Rolland, Rod, Darrell, Dean and David Moxley became a family.
Our first family wedding in “The Old Church”.
Growing up in the classic structure gave unending opportunities for exploration.
Climbing up to the belfry, running in the halls of the basement,
finding passageways of mystery with low, low ceilings…
It wouldn’t be hard to lose a lad on a Sunday morning.
The local church had become a second home.
As we previewed the building for Joel and Tori’s wedding,
Darrell and I meandered through the changing walls as he recalled his history in the cherished church.
The claim to fame, when bored with the words of wisdom coming from the pulpit,
secretly inscribe your unforgettable initials upon the pew in front of you.
Andrew, our son, and Darrell set off on the hunt for “D.M.”
Victory! Near the back, on the left side as you face the podium,
a secure D.M. inscribed for all of time and eternity.
As we walked under the Gothic arches,
my passion for Victorian architecture was looming within my spirit.
What beauty, what grandeur, what skill, what vision.
I am so thankful that people in our past loved to design symphonic elegance with wood.
We progressed to the wedding rehearsal and it came time for
the Bride & Groom
to stand in their place… and of course,
tradition states someone else must stand in their position of honor.
Darrell and I were summoned to the position and we scurried to the platform,
but inside my heart, it was a prophetic call.
It was like our wedding all over again, as we stood in this sacred position.
Our vows were a serious commitment to each other
which has produced fruit of a 40 year marriage.
It had always been my dream to marry in this old church.
It was not available at the time of our wedding, but it was still a dream, nonetheless,
and now I had another dream… hmmm~
The “Wedding Planner” quickly turned into the “Wedding Day”
including all the stress balanced with delight.
What a bliss to have mother of the bride and mother of the groom
working together to dress our daughter,
while chatting about every detail that was soon to take place.
Truly, joy filled the air.
Preparations for the wedding of 2004 were taking place
in the same area as Tori’s Grandmother prepared in 1952…
“The Old Church”
has become sacred ground for other family weddings, as well.
Our oldest son, Dennis and Angel were married under the massive arches in 1989.
More descendants of the Moxley clan made a memory of their special day.
The Dillions (Angela Moxley) & The Mallorys (Karil Moxley)
“Family… All because two people fell in love”…
The sign reads above the blissful moments in time on my
And the five little white suits worn by the Moxley boys…?
They were worn proudly in a future family wedding
and are waiting patiently in Grandma’s attic,
for another two people to fall in love, and want a legacy to make their Wedding Day special.
Tori & Joel…
The family is still growing with the recent addition of Lucy Victoria Walker,
who has already captured the hearts of her older brothers,
Drew & William.
Darrell & I …?
We would love to celebrate 50 years of marriage on January 15, 2022
within the walls of memories at “The Old Church”,
but we would be EXTENDING our vows.
“For better or worse, sicker or poorer…”,
if we live that long, the reality will probably be sicker and poorer~
but rich in love ~ rich in history ~ rich in commitment,
and a priceless
“Moment in Time”
In Moments Like These Instrumental