• A church in the proposed NGA footprint: Congregation says goodbye

    by Carolina Hidalgo, St. Louis Public Radio

    In the same pulpit his father had preached from for decades, he clutched the microphone and spoke.

    “You whispered a word.”

    Fresh flowers decorated the lectern. He wore a white suit with a picture of his dad pinned to its lapel.

    “Father, we want to thank you for a beautiful life.”

    The Rev. Jonathan Davis opened his eyes and looked at the dozens of people swaying in the pews. They had all known and loved his father, The Rev. Joel Kelly Davis, and now they were here to say goodbye.

    They stood in the warm, cinder block building that has housed Grace Missionary Baptist Church for most of its 60-year existence. Each of them had a story about the elder Davis, who died two weeks ago at age 101.

    They traded memories, each one distinct except for the little church at Cass and Jefferson Avenues that tied them all together.


    The Rev. Jonathan Davis preaches while speaking about his father.

    Felicia Davis, Rev. Jonathan Davis' wife, helps a church member's son with his shoelace.

    Members and visitors pray.

    Rev. Joel Davis' grandchildren announce their names for parishioners.

    Bob Hansman first sang at the Rev. Joel Davis' insistence.