Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bulletin from New Church

One of the first folks I met here at New Church has a reputation for being somewhat of a curmudgeon. Actually, a huge curmudgeon. Make that a royal PITA to every pastor to come and go from this place for the last 70 years.

When I first arrived, R. told me that the church register was missing. I tucked this item away and didn't ponder on it too much; it came in the midst of a litany that went something like,

"And I lay THIS problem at HIS door,

And I lay THAT problem at HER door,

And I lay THIS OTHER problem at THEIR door."

The gist was, the Church of Jesus Christ is going to hell in a handbasket, and only the oldsters like R. know what it is to be good, loyal, God-fearing churchgoers. Fair enough. The register got buried, in my mind, under all R.'s complaints and accusations.

Well, friends, some of you "got" what it meant that the church register was missing. It means that, from the time of the ending of the previous church register...

no baptism

no marriage

no reception of a new member

no ordination of a deacon or elder

and no death

is recorded in any official record book. The last available church register ends in.... drumroll please.....


Yes, that's right. Forty-one years. I have before me the task of either A. finding the damned thing (the preferable option) or B. trying to reconstruct forty-one years of church history.

This is a huge bloody deal. And somewhere God is giggling like crazy that I, an ENFP, a vision kind of girl, a not-so-interested-in-details-and-minutiae kind of girl, get to do/ oversee this incredibly detailed reconstruction of a vital piece of church life and history.

I am audibly whimpering, just a little.


LittleMary said...

Oh. My. God. That. Sucks.

Jan said...

That is awful. I'm sorry. Good luck! I'll say a little prayer for you.

more cows than people said...


alright, but... they have to submit to presbytery EVERY year, right? have they not submitted for 41 years? why don't you start your search by asking your session records commitee when last they saw the register?

maybe then figuring out who the presby commissioner was that year can get you closer...

and um, start invoking st. anthony.

yup, i'm with lm, totally sucks.

can't wait to see you though....

Wyldth1ng said...

Do registries last that long? Doesn't 2 or 3 years sound closer? I am not doubting you, I just think that is a huge timespan.

If I could help you I would.

You should make the miser rewrite it, since he lived it. My opinion.

Pastor Peters said...

ok, i hate to go all ucc on you. but why would that be YOUR responsibility? you are the pastor. not the historian. not the 50 year member. not the clerk. you are the pastor.

find it. that's a nice pastor thing to do. but, what a wonderful project for the laity to remember the past 44 years? like say the youth. i hear confirmation project. or maybe those older ladies. they love that stuff. why must you do it? but, again, i'm ucc. we don't do that.

steve said...

I feel for you. That kind of detail work is grating to me, too. Prayers and best wishes that this situation resolves itself without too much effort.

Magdalene6127 said...

MoreCows, the stated clerk has started making inquiries for me. Evidently the memories of the session records' committees are as blurry as those of my church members.

All this was evidently discovered by the interim after she baptized a baby, and asked the office administrator (who, at the time, was also the clerk of session), who said, "Oh, we don't do that." Interim said, "What do you mean, you don't do that?" and began asking around.

At this point we're going back through clerks of session. It seems the last one to enter anything was clerk about 12-15 years ago. She became ill. I am trying to determine whether she actually took the book home when she was getting sick.

There are safes and closets that haven't been searched yet. I am starting there.

Wyld, how long the registries last depends on how big the church is. This is a smallish church (about 156 members at present). Like lots of churches, there was a time when it was much larger. But it is likely there is just one missing.

The curmudgeon isn't part of the problem; R. is one of the few who are really diligent about things like record-keeping and church history. In my opinion, the pastors are responsible, ultimately, because they are the ones who had some clue as to how important the records are, and so they set the tone of carelessness.

Pastor Peters, I agree... this is not my job entirely. But i do have a responsibility to let people know the gravity of this, to enlist aid to attack the problem, and to organize people to begin the reconstruction project (if the book is not found).

Thanks all, for your tea and sympathy. I'm gonna ask my mom to start praying to Saint Anthony... maybe the two of them are catching a Frank Sinatra concert together.

revhipchick said...


blessings and love to you!

Diane said...

Egad! what a job! It's amazing it has slid by for so long...