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Rev. John Gensel, pastor to the jazz community

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by Nick Ara, Jun 16, 2004.

  1. Nick Ara

    Nick Ara

    Jul 22, 2002
    Long Island, NY
    For some reason, I've been spending a good bit of time lately thinking about an old acquaintance I made back in my college days over 30 yrs ago. Rev. Gensel needs no introduction to those in the NYC area (his influence extends worldwide, I think) and though he passed on about 6 yrs ago, I was wondering if any had any stories they'd like to share about their encounters with this wonderful human being.

    On a personal level, he was perhaps my biggest influence to study jazz, and in no time at all helped me understand far more about myself both spiritually and musically.
  2. shadowsong


    Aug 20, 2004
    Dear Nick...

    In one of those strange coincidences,I too found myself reminiscing lately about the Rev. John Gensel when I chanced upon this forum and saw your message.

    Like you I had the good fortune to meet him and get to know him over 30 years ago, at which time I was starting out as a singer. Because I lacked confidence I might have even given up had it not been for his encouragement, affection, and belief in me and my talent. The fact is he loved and believed in everyone and I think, even more importantly, helped people to believe in themselves.

    I have so many fond memories of Rev. Gensel and his acts of kindness and support it's hard to know where to begin. The most thrilling of these was his inviting me to perform at the All Nite Soul of 1975 at St. Peter's Church. What an incredible experience that was! Several times he also included me in his famous late-night excursions to jazz clubs so as to provide opportunities for me to meet musicians and expand my musical knowledge and acquaintances.

    Another memorable event was the Bible study class he conducted into which he incorporated music in a variety of interesting ways. One "assignment" he gave was to write a song based on a biblical passage (which I did, and that led to further songwriting). He himself was creative and imaginative and enjoyed writing, usually whimsically humorous short stories and allegorical tales.

    Well, I could go on and on about this wonderful human being, as you so aptly described him. It surprises me that there don't appear to be any other responses to your message as he certainly was widely known and loved. For me personally, he was the kindest, most gracious, and I believe, most spiritually evolved person I've ever known. I'd be interested in knowing more about your own experiences with him and the specific ways in which he influenced you and enhanced your understanding, if you would care to share them.