Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)
By Ron Hale
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Where is Tennesseetown?
Your first thought is: this question doesn’t take much cogitating. Not so fast! Tennesseetown was formed in the state of Kansas just after the Civil War. It was an African American community just outside Topeka, the state capital.
The community was settled by former slaves who came to be known as Exodusters. During the post-reconstruction period in the South, these families left the Mississippi Valley lands of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana traveling with hopes and dreams to the homesteading lands of Kansas in the 1870’s.
The Exodusters made up one-third the population of the Topeka area when Charles M. Sheldon and wife Mary came to Topeka to pastor the fledgling Central Congregational Church. He went to work starting ministries that would impact the city, especially the poor and hungry in a town experiencing depression.
Sheldon spent a lot of time in Tennesseetown and started the first African American Kindergarten west of the Mississippi River. The school became a training center; training kindergarten teachers for schools across the nation. Elisha Scott was one of the kindergarten’s brightest and most famous students.
Pastor Sheldon encouraged young Elisha to study hard while finishing elementary school and high school. Pastor Sheldon encouraged and helped Elisha even more as he finished college and eventually Law School.
Elisha Scott was so grateful for all the help and encouragement from Pastor Charles Sheldon that he named one of his sons Charles Sheldon Scott. This son also finished Law School.
You might be impressed to know that Pastor Charles Sheldon wrote the amazingly best-selling book entitled: In His Steps. The book asked a simple straight forward spiritual question: What would Jesus do? It became one of the best-selling books in the world.
You may be even more impressed to know that Charles Sheldon Scott, the Pastor’s namesake, was on the legal team that successfully argued the 1954 Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education case that led to the end of school segregation in America. Too say the least, God works in mysterious ways!
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