March 21, 2020 was a sunny spring Saturday, in the early stages of the pandemic lockdown. Our family was enjoying some fresh air outside and “tinkering” around the yard. After St. Matthew’s former church building on the hill was demolished last year, the cornerstone was spared and was deposited in our yard in front of the parsonage. Several bricks were still attached to the cornerstone. We removed these and repositioned the cornerstone to a little better spot a few feet away.
However, in the process of removing the bricks and mortar from the top of the cornerstone, we discovered that there was a layer of a different material in the middle. After carefully chiseling away more of the mortar, it became clear that there was something unusual about this stone. We spent another hour or so slowly working away at this layer of protective material until a piece broke loose and we could look inside the cavity in the stone. Finally, we could see something – the side of a copper box.
A little later, we were able to fully open the cornerstone and wiggle the copper box free from the resting place where it had been hiding for many years. The box is 9” x 5” and quite heavy for its size. There is no date or inscription on it. The cornerstone is dated “1900” on one face and “1929” on another, referencing the construction of St. Matthew’s first and second church buildings. The time capsule must have been placed in one of those two years.
Along with its age, there are other mysteries surrounding the time capsule. What did our forebears in faith at St. Matthew conceal in the capsule? If there are written materials inside, will they be in German or English? What condition are the items in? (Materials in time capsules sometimes deteriorate, especially after such a long time.) Why wasn’t there a reference to the time capsule in any of St. Matthew’s historical documents?
Hopefully some of these mysteries will be solved soon! We are planning to open St. Matthew’s time capsule on September 13, 2020 after an outdoor worship service on “Drive Your Tractor” Sunday. I hope you can join us and see for yourself what the pioneers of this congregation preserved for us!
Those pivotal years in St. Matthew’s story – 1900 and 1929 – were not easy times. In 1900, the residents of the area made a living by farming and logging with horse drawn implements. 1929 is most known for the stock market crash and ensuing Great Depression. 2020 could certainly be included on that list of challenging years.
Lord willing, as we and our descendants look back on this moment in time, we will remember our Spirit-worked endurance and dependence upon Christ. We will look back and see how the Lord protected us and sustained us through one of the toughest times we have faced in our lives. We will see this as the beginning of a new chapter for in our individual walks of faith with Christ and of our church’s story of faith.
In closing, I’ll share a hymn verse which reminds us of God’s guiding hand in history:
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last
And our eternal home!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Kory Janneke
Posted on September 30, 2020 2:07 PM