Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Fayette | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Warren | Webster

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...

Eastern 12U All-Stars Blank Grayson County

LEITCHFIELD, Ky. (7/21/14) — The Owensboro Eastern 12U All-Stars limited tournament host Grayson County in the… Read More

Strahan Selected as Cravens Elementary Principal

OWENSBORO, Ky. (7/21/14) — Cortney Strahan has been chosen as the next principal of Cravens Elementary School to fill… Read More

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

July 18, 2014 2747

Madisonville Man Arrested for Meth in…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
July 18, 2014 1676

Hopkins County Health Department Food…

in News by Lisa Miller
July 18, 2014 1634

K9 Unit Helps Find Meth in Muhlenberg…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
July 18, 2014 1549

Man Injured in Depoy Accident

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
July 18, 2014 1398

Owensboro Police Department Reports…

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

July 18, 2014 2747

Madisonville Man Arrested for Meth in…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
July 19, 2014 921

Local Hip-Hop Artist, Marack, Talks About…

in Top Stories by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
July 19, 2014 740

Riddle Insurance Inaugural Flight

in Top Stories by Ron Sanders
July 21, 2014 513

Three Injured in Three-Vehicle Collision…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
July 20, 2014 335

White Plains Under Boil Water Advisory

in Top Stories by Schiquita Pleasant

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

July 18, 2014 1398

Owensboro Police Department Reports…

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
July 18, 2014 385

Owensboro Begins Year-Long, Long Range…

in Top Stories by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
July 21, 2014 342

Portion of Southeastern Parkway Closed…

in News by Beth Cecil
July 21, 2014 313

Strahan Selected as Cravens Elementary…

in Top Stories by Julie Ellis
July 21, 2014 128

ODC 14-Year-Olds Win West State, Move on…

in Top Stories by Steve LeMaster

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

July 18, 2014 1634

K9 Unit Helps Find Meth in Muhlenberg…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
July 18, 2014 1549

Man Injured in Depoy Accident

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
July 21, 2014 1198

Five Sent to Hospital After Two-Vehicle…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
July 18, 2014 1076

From New York to Greenville, Iron Beam…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
July 19, 2014 1010

Cash Mob Descends on Muhlenberg…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

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