Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Fayette | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Warren | Webster
Davis Motor Sales banner ad

Keeping the Faith — Choose the Future

ronniemcbrayer300 cKENTUCKY (12/29/13) — Last year the Old South Congregational Church in Boston began to unravel itself from a quandary. They had been the longtime owners of an exceptional church hymnal, one of the first books produced in North America, printed in 1640. After years of deliberation, study groups, and business meetings, the church finally voted to sell the hymnal.

Because of the age and historical importance attached to this hymnal, selling it was much more than jettisoning a tiny sliver of American nostalgia. The hymnal has incredible value for collectors, and those collectors were salivating to sink their teeth into this ancient book. Thus, when Sotheby’s auctioned the hymnal last month, it brought a hammer price of $14.2 million, a record for a single printed book.

The sale price, with that long string of zeroes, did not free the church from controversy. On one side were the church historians and those members of the congregation who felt they had been called to preserve the church’s history and legacy. On the other side were Pastor Nancy Taylor, the majority of the leadership, and those who felt that faithful stewardship demanded that the resources of the church not be preserved but repurposed to continue mission and ministry.

One side said it was about symbolism, while the other side said it was about service. One side said it was about the past, while the other side pointed to the future. One side said it was about greed on the behalf of the church’s leadership, and the church leadership said the dissenters were moored to traditionalism.

I watched this story unfold for over a year, and was sympathetic to both sides until I heard the church historian say that the church had two of these exceptional books and if this one was sold, You would never be able to hold one in each hand ever again. Of course, he had to admit that holding them was not really practical they are much too fragile for that.

Then he further revealed that the hymnals weren’t even in the church’s possession! They were stored in the rare books department of the Boston Public Library. Most church members and certainly 99% of the community have never even laid eyes on these items. Are they ancient? Yes. Significant? Absolutely. Do they remain instruments of worship and service? No, they haven’t served that purpose for a long time, and they will never do so again.

That these hymnals are a part of the past, not the future, appeared to be the final motivation in the sale. One thoughtful woman in the church said, I have two young sons, and looking forward I want my sons to learn that it’s not about objects. We can take those objects from the past and turn them into fuel for tomorrow.

What a fantastic perspective, and what an applicable lesson for us all. As one year ends and another begins, a profound choice is put before every person: Will we hold on to the past preserving, protecting, and perpetuating it even when doing so becomes much more work than it is worth? Or will we use the past, its gore and its glory, as fuel for the future? Will we take all we have learned, all we have been blessed with, and yes, even all that has hurt us, as the means to continue moving forward?

I am certain that a church older than the Constitution, old enough to have baptized the infant Benjamin Franklin, and solid enough to withstand everything three centuries has thrown at it, will indeed weather this current situation. I just hope that the resources from the past will get put to today’s use, and not be locked away in a vault or collect interest in some obscene-sized endowment.

I hope the same for all of us. Let’s not make life a museum built to what used to be, but a mission to bring about what can be, for life is not so much about preserving the past as it is living with power and purpose today.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is The Gospel According to Waffle House. You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

In Other News...

Calloway County Schools Announces 'STOP! Tipline'

CALLOWAY COUNTY, Ky. (7/24/14) — In an effort to use every available resource to maintain a safe learning environment,… Read More

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - July 24, 2014

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (7/24/14) — The Madisonville Police Department released the following reports Thursday, July 24.… Read More

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

July 22, 2014 3937

Madisonville Woman Charged With…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
July 21, 2014 2764

Five Sent to Hospital After Two-Vehicle…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
July 24, 2014 2261

Powderly Man Injured in Apparent Gun…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 21, 2014 2182

Business Spotlight - Painted Window Aims…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 21, 2014 2101

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - July…

in News by Madisonville Police Department

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

July 22, 2014 3937

Madisonville Woman Charged With…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
July 23, 2014 1838

Crime Stoppers Top Most Wanted - July 23,…

in Top Stories by Crime Stoppers
July 24, 2014 1415

Madisonville Man Charged for Drugs,…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
July 21, 2014 1207

Madisonville Fire Chief Announces…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
July 21, 2014 1156

Three Injured in Three-Vehicle Collision…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

July 21, 2014 1390

Portion of Southeastern Parkway Closed…

in News by Beth Cecil
July 22, 2014 1086

Alliance for a Drug Free Owensboro and…

in News by Carla Shelton
July 23, 2014 1030

Owensboro Neighborhood Alliance Meeting…

in News by Sherry Girten
July 22, 2014 1025

Daviess County Traffic Advisory

in News by Keith Todd
July 23, 2014 849

Fall Baseball League Registrations

in News by Brittni Bunn

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

July 21, 2014 2764

Five Sent to Hospital After Two-Vehicle…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
July 24, 2014 2261

Powderly Man Injured in Apparent Gun…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 21, 2014 2182

Business Spotlight - Painted Window Aims…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 23, 2014 1609

Greenville Family Loses Home, Possessions…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 23, 2014 1229

Swinging for Sadie Raises $6,000 for…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)

SurfKY Owensboro News Bureau
920 Frederica St. / Suite 210  •  Owensboro, KY 42301  •  270.683-8060 (phone)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social 06social 21social 22social 04social 03