So Josetta and Julius Sr. got their two young children into the car in their pajamas and headed for Joseph Avenue.
“I was six years old,” said Julius Jackson Jr., who followed in his father’s footsteps and became a pastor himself, now serving at Trinity Emmanuel Presbyterian Church. “It was a very memorable day. I remember being in the car when he came here to visit the site after being informed that he had been bombed.”
When the Jackson family arrived on Joseph Avenue, they saw the condition of the building.
“The pulpit was practically in ruins,” Jr. said. “There are pictures of her now, but I remember we would come back here often and see the damage, until it was renovated. “
Fortunately, no one was injured in the blast as no one was around when it happened early in the morning. However, the explosion claimed almost all of the original stained glass – the only remaining stained glass window sits at the front of the building as a true symbol of the history, resilience and strength of its walls.
“There is still more greatness to be achieved,” Jr. said. “I hope this day inspires others to achieve greatness as well.”
After a six-year renovation and reconstruction process, the building reopened and was consecrated again in 1977. In the meantime, the congregation has leapt from church to church. Although there was no “house” of worship during this time, Jackson Jr. says the congregation actually grew in size.
“There are people who formed their relationship with Mount Vernon when we weren’t in that building,” Jackson Jr. said. “A testimony that the church isn’t the building, it’s just the place where we worship. The church is the people. “
The explosion certainly rocked the building that Thanksgiving Day, but it didn’t shake the congregation’s steadfast faith and connection to one another.
To date, no one has been charged and no motive has been determined for the bombing. Members of the congregation have several theories, although none have been proven. This uncertainty does not seem to bother longtime parishioners – they are just grateful to have returned home.
“No concrete answers, but the Lord brought us back here and we are grateful,” Josetta said.
This Sunday will mark 82 years since the founding of the church, and she still stands on Joseph Avenue in Rochester.