Church opens 107-year-old time capsule
Fascinating discoveries link congregation with saints of past
MONROE CITY – Six months ago, when a tornado destroyed the 106-year-old auditorium that was First Baptist Church, the congregation remained upbeat, praising God even as crews worked to remove the rubble that had been their auditorium. They refused to live in the past and instead looked forward to how God would use them in the future.
But Sept. 17 as they met in the shadow of their old building, they deliberately turned their thoughts to years gone by and their church’s history as they opened a 107-year-old time capsule.
In the aftermath of the storm, workers found the small, copper box hidden under the cornerstone.
Pastor Milton Baumgardner pried open the soldered box during the morning worship that Sunday in what was billed as a celebration of the church’s heritage.
• Two Bibles (one New Testament and one whole Bible).
• A pamphlet listing rules and policies of the church.
• A copy of the ordinances of Monroe City in 1899.
• Three newspapers, one referencing a fire that burned the church down in 1899, prompting the construction of the building now destroyed in the tornado.
• A nail, presumably of the type used in construction.
Baumgardner said he did not know why they chose to include some of the things that were in the time capsule, but he found some symbolism as they opened the box.
“Scripture was obviously their foundation and framework. The church was literally built on the Word of God,” he said.
The penny symbolized that God demands our stewardship, and the nail represents what holds the church together: love, fellowship and a purpose. The pamphlet shows that “we have a purpose and a mission,” he said.
“This church existed because some people in 1899 believed this community needed a witness,” Baumgardner said. “They provided us this heritage and we need to pass it on… to claim the heritage, use it and move on.”
Armed with this new knowledge of their history, the church is moving on and things are going well. They are meeting in the undamaged fellowship hall and hope to hear back from the insurance company about rebuilding their auditorium within the next two months.
While that issue may not be settled, Baumgardner said one thing is for certain. When they do rebuild, they’ll be including a time capsule of their own.
“We’re not sure what will be in it at this point, but we plan to put everything from the original and then add some things that are pertinent to who we are today.”