Preserving Our History: The Archives Committee

By Doug Robinson,

Archives Committee member

Newspaper articles; photographs; awards; ticket stubs; playbills; church activities; kids’ accomplishments. All items found in a scrapbook. No doubt there’s an old scrapbook packed away in your home somewhere. These days, it seems they’ve migrated online to Pinterest. I had scrapbooks too and I continued collecting items (Jimmy Buffett ticket stubs and guitar picks!) for them through college then into the early days of my professional career and I gladly turned over the collection responsibility to my wife upon our marriage (she’s truly an expert!).

Like my cherished scrapbooks of memories, St. John’s has its own types of scrapbooks, as well. Consider the various activities of the church and the memories created by each. Over the years there have been a multitude of committees, with their own goals and accomplishments. There have been various service groups both local and global, as well as a number of discipleship groups. Simply put, St. John’s members have built a very, very LARGE scrapbook of artifacts since its founding in 1747.

A small but immensely dedicated Archives Committee have collected these member, committee and church memories for posterity. As you can imagine, it would take a tremendously large scrapbook to document the life of the church and it’s members, so the Committee began sorting items into folders in filing cabinets. One unique item within those cabinets may be your very own file folder in the Archives. Over the years, members of the church have collected articles from newspapers, magazines and professional publications about current and former members of the church and turned them over to Archives for safekeeping. Committee members diligently created a file folder for each, filling at least two filing cabinets to date.

Concurrently, committee members identified large artifacts throughout the church that need to be preserved for future generations.

Recognizing the importance of these artifacts and memorabilia, current-day church leaders designated a smaller climate-controlled room in the new Faith Center to house the Archives Collection. It features an elaborate but highly functional rolling shelving system which allows for future growth. The room is in the church office hallway. Members are encouraged to stop by the Archives Room anytime during weekday business hours or on Sunday mornings. You may have seen our most recent project, identifying of members in the 250th Anniversary Congregation Photo, on display in the Fellowship Hall in recent weeks. Similar efforts are to follow.

Pat Epting, Barbara Rufty and Linda Safrit volunteered to move all the memorabilia from the sanctuary basement to the Faith Center Archives Room. These ladies worked twice a week for seven years to catalog the items, and are now ready for others to carry on this work.

Please consider joining the archives committee for the coming year. The committee presently meets the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month from 2 to 4 pm. We are in need of expertise from those who’ve grown up in the church who can readily identify members in photographs, newspaper articles, etc. Contact Linda Safrit, safrit.bill@gmail.com, to volunteer or for more information. Our scrapbook needs you to continue telling the story of St. John’s!