Sanctuary

For a century this inner-city church has served as a refuge. But its most important mission has always been outside the walls.

Uemura passed away on December 7, 1957, six months after his wife died. Although Joseph had started following in his father's footsteps, actually becoming a minister part-time, when he was offered a scholarship to study philosophy at Columbia University, he left the Iliff School of Theology, where he was studying for his doctorate.

Maggie married her Irishman and remained a member of the church.
In 1960, looking for a larger facility, the congregation decided to merge with Simpson Methodist Church, which had been founded in 1882 and was one of the oldest continuing Methodist churches in Colorado. Struggling with "white flight" from the interracial neighborhood around the church at 34th and High, Simpson had a large building but only a few dozen members at services and, finally, no minister. The two congregations struck a deal to join under the Simpson United Methodist Church banner.

Two years later the building at 25th and California was sold to a poor black church: the Union Gospel Mission.

In 1967 the Simpson congregation, now predominantly Japanese, built a new church in Arvada. The building is Japanese in architecture and landscaping style. But when the congregation was asked to choose a new name, they voted to retain Simpson United Methodist.

On Sunday mornings Simpson conducts two services simultaneously. One is in English, the other in Japanese.

Barry Staten was released from the state reformatory on June 12, 1975. On August 12 of the following year, his son, Galen, was born. Barry had met his girlfriend through her brother, Ricky, one of the Three Stooges. She'd hated Barry when they were growing up, but now they were in love.

The new father held his tiny son and studied his face for his own features. Whatever else he had done wrong, this was a good thing. He couldn't remember when he'd been so happy. All he wanted was to be a good father. So he started to work, mostly in the kitchens of downtown restaurants, and stayed off the streets.

But the relationship with his girlfriend was stormy. They were in love one minute and at each other's throats the next. Two years after his son was born, Barry was sitting in a car with Ricky and Ricky's brother. They were all three drunk, and the two brothers started yelling at Barry for fighting with their sister.

"Hey, that's between her and me," he retorted. "She's the mother of my child, and it's none of your business."

The argument escalated until the two brothers began beating Barry. He escaped out the driver's side door, pulling the older brother with him. When Barry started punching him, Ricky ran around from the passenger side and pulled Barry off his sibling.

The two brothers were working Barry over when the older one suddenly became violently ill from all the alcohol he'd consumed and collapsed. Knowing he couldn't handle Barry by himself, Ricky took off running. But Barry caught him and cold-cocked him in mid-stride.

A week later, Barry was at his girlfriend's mother's house visiting Galen. He wasn't worried about the brothers; he figured they'd all gotten their licks in and the fight was behind them. But when word had gotten out on the streets about how Barry had bested him, Ricky's reputation had also taken a beating. There was only one way to get it back. In the yard, Ricky confronted Barry with a .22-caliber pistol. Barry stood his ground. Ricky fired a shot at his feet.

Barry turned to leave, but hell if he was going to run. Another bullet zipped into the ground. Then another and another. Barry was counting the shots as he walked as calmly as fear would allow. The gun was a six-shooter. Two left, he told himself. The fifth shot went buzzing by his ear.

Barry ran. As he hopped the fence, he felt a burning in his back. Thinking he'd scraped himself, he kept running down the sidewalk. Then he heard a young boy cry, "He's hit! He's hit!"

Surprised, Barry turned. "What?"
"You shot," the boy said.
Barry looked down. No blood. Then his felt his back and looked at his hand. It was bright red. Damn, he'd been shot--by his old friend, his son's uncle.

After that, Barry tried to stay out of trouble. Although he rarely kept a job more than a few months, he didn't do much worse than smoke marijuana. He saw his son when he could. His girlfriend's parents didn't approve of him, but they couldn't stop him. Galen was a chubby toddler, just like Barry had been, with soft brown eyes that lit up when his father brought him something, like the new little cowboy boots on which he'd spent his last dime. But the visits were always too short.

In 1980 Barry was working as a janitor at a health-care center when the manager accused him of stealing a fellow employee's television. The manager said he was going to withhold $160 from Barry's $200 paycheck to pay for it.

Barry denied stealing the television, but the manager didn't believe him. Enraged, he went home and got a kitchen knife, then returned to the center. He kept the knife hidden beneath his coat, except for the wooden handle that he hoped the manager would think was a gun. He demanded his pay.

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