Monday, October 31, 2005

Montreat: Preserving Southern church heritage deeply felt issue

Montreat: Preserving Southern church heritage deeply felt issue (Presbyterian Outlook (free registration required):
by Leslie Scanlon, Presbyterian Outlook national reporter

"For some folks, sitting on a rocking chair on a front porch in Montreat, N.C. calls back a lifetime of memories and connections. They hear in those hills the footsteps of Presbyterians from their own families and others they know and revere, saints of the church who served God in congregations throughout the southern United States and on mission assignments around the world.

What’s the value of someone being able to come to the archives at Montreat and find her grandmother’s name listed as a Sunday school teacher in the records of her childhood church?

It’s hard to know how to put a dollar value on that. What’s the right amount to pay to preserve such memories? When does that price become too much?

That bone-deep love for a place and a heritage is whipping up a storm in Montreat, where the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) has decided that, for economic reasons, for the sake of other priorities in the financially-struggling Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Montreat Historical Society should shut its doors...."

I am a product of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, a predecessor denomination of the PC(USA). I have grown to appreciate the PCUS as it and the UPCUSA joined together in 1983, healing a wound that had festered far too long.

As much as I am a Presbyterian, I also am a person who values history -- family, church, country, and world -- and to risk losing that history or making it inaccessible to the people who made it is a matter of great concern.

I can understand why many Presbyterians out of the PCUS tradition are upset at this proposed move, and I hope some way can be found to keep these priceless historical records in the place where much of the history took place.

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