presbyterianchurchtimecapsulegroupshotIn 2038, those at the First Presbyterian Church of Stanhope, on Main Street,  will get a message from the past.  That message will come in the form of the contents of a time capsule which was recently assembled by the church’s anniversary committee and presented to the congregation as the finale to the church’s 175th anniversary celebration.  The time capsule, which is actually a military ammunition container which was repainted and labeled, hold items reflective of the church’s history.  It is being put in the church’s sanctuary to be opened in its 200th anniversary year.

Carol Barry, of Andover, co-chairperson of the anniversary committee, shared that the capsule includes a binder with many photos and newspaper articles, a summary of the committee’s activities during the 2013  anniversary year, many documents from the church’s 150th anniversary, an original wooden organ pipe, one of the commemorative 175th anniversary tote bags and commemorative pewter ornaments, the 150th anniversary booklet, the 175th anniversary booklet, and a 2013 church annual report.

Forward thinking and care were put into deciding what would go into the capsule.

“While deciding what to put in the time capsule, we all wanted to put in a few CD’s of our choir’s Christmas and Good Friday cantatas.  But, we all figured, with the incredibly fast advancements in technology, there probably won’t be a way to play the disks in 25 years!” said Barry

While, some of the items put in might be self-explanatory, the organ pipe has a sentimental history which got it into the capsule. It is from an organ that served the church for 80 years, but was replaced by an electronic one when the costs of repairing the original became prohibitive

“In 1920, a new Estey Organ was installed at a cost of $1,850. It included hundreds of pipes from a few inches to the largest ones of eight feet long.  Some of these pipes were metal and others fashioned of sugar pine wood. In 1999, a group of our members removed the facade of decorative pipes giving them access to the organ pipes behind.  After the organ pipes were removed, the facade was replaced after being cleaned and repainted remaining a focal point of our sanctuary. Several speakers were installed providing sound for the new electronic organ which was put in place in 2000 after some extensive carpentry work was done to the choir loft and organ platform.

Some of the smaller, original organ pipes were given to those interested in the memento.  Herman Barkwood used several of the smaller ones and made beautiful wooden plaques displaying these pipes.  One of the plaques is displayed in the back of the sanctuary. The old organ console was given to Owen Newson who gave it new life as a desk for his home. This past spring, the large cross which hung over the pipes behind the choir loft fell and was broken beyond repair.  Herman used some of the old wooden organ pipes that he had saved to craft a new, beautiful cross, making it very special to our church, “ shared Barry.

Committee member  Kay Raastad, of Flanders,   hopes that the material that has been gathered for the capsule will convey how important the church has been in her life, as well as the lives of the church’s parishioners.  She is a proud 4th generation member of the church; she’s been a member for over 50 years.  Many church members have seen generations of their family worship there.

Rasstad’s daughter, Linda McCabe of Roxbury, another committee member,  felt that gathering the information was like  re-living the last 25 years.  She shared that, like her mom, the church has been a big part of her life and treasures her church family dearly.  McCabe was baptized there, went all through Sunday School and then joined the church.  A few years after becoming a member, she became an Elder.  Her mother told her that she was following in her great grandfather and great, great grandfather’s footsteps.

Noting that this is the first time capsule that the church has had, committee co-chair Phil Schomp of Hackettstown said that the committee wanted to preserve in one place the 175 year history of the church.

‘We hope that the people who open the time capsule in 2038 can get some feel of the evolution the church went through over the first one hundred and seventy five years, not just through the works of the ministers, but how the various organizations of the church worked so hard to make the church a place where the local folk could come and worship on a Sunday and where they could send their children to Sunday School knowing that the word of the Lord would be taught to them by competent teachers,” he said.

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Elsie Walker