The Forest City Ward started as a Branch November 26th, 1967. From a start in two, small rented houses to a twice-enlarged 3rd phase church building, the ward has a rich history of member sacrifices and spiritual growth. This was an event that gave attendees a chance to reflect on that history. Past members were invited to help us celebrate. The festive cultural hall was filled with guests. A ward history display showcased a Christmas tree, old pictures, newspaper articles, a listing of ward leaders & missionary records even predating the official start in 1967. This included a picture and story depicting how the Minnie Gosnell family drove over an hour every Sunday to Hollifield in a 1936 Chevrolet in 1945 just to get to Sunday School before a branch or ward was started in Forest City.
After a dinner of turkey and ham provided by the High Priest Group and a wonderful array of side dishes and desserts provided by Relief Society, the program unfolded. High Priest Group Leader Dale Workman and Sister Lois Sims presented the historical reflections. Lois read our history from the Asheville Stake history book, which had been compiled by Frances Chapman, Ron Chapman’s mother. Much of the detail for this writing of the history came from members notes and journals, especially those of Rhetha Simmons, CW Simmons’ mother.
During the history reading, sister Sims paused occasionally to allow Brother Workman to interview some descendant members who were part of the Forest City Ward’s early beginnings. CW Simmons, Ron & Connie Chapman, and Gene Gosnell were youth or young adults with families when their parents came to the area. During the fireside chat interviews, each shared anecdotal stories, memories and perspectives relating to the history being narrated by Sister Sims. The audience also added stories. Testimonies were strengthened.
A time capsule is being filled with memorabilia and testimonies over the coming weeks to be stored for future generations to reflect upon. The great lesson we all learned from this event is how precious the journals and stories of the past can be to future generations. It has inspired some of us to be more diligent in preserving the memories and testimonies of today for the future, and most importantly, how faith in Jesus Christ and our Eternal Father had kept these wonderful families going during difficult and austere beginnings.