The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
"Ask the Archivist" is a new series by Paul Daniels, archivist for ELCA Region 3. In his work, Daniels helps congregations preserve their history, maintain records, and celebrate their legacy. In "Ask the Archivist", Daniels answers frequently asked questions about archiving. He works out of Luther Seminary in St. Paul and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The congregational history is one of the most important results of months, perhaps years, of careful preparation by the anniversary planning committee. It is the permanent compilation of the stories of our faith communities that deserve to be retained, studied, and used. As such, it is important to consider the style and tone of the written narrative.
As obvious as it may seem, every narrative, whether for a church history, a secular history, or a work of fiction, will adopt a unique style. This style will reflect the “personality” of the written piece. The following are just a few examples of styles that I’ve worked with in congregational histories donated to the ELCA Region 3 Archives. It is not an exhaustive list, but may suggest a range of approaches, including a preferred one.
You have the opportunity with a thoughtfully planned, researched, and written congregational history to strike a balance between gratitude and celebration, raw historical data and flowing, personal storytelling — all of which are a part of marking an important anniversary. The narrative can, and should, be an accurate recounting of God’s activity in one faith community, in one time and place. However, this act of remembering and thanksgiving also connects us to 2,000 years of the larger Church and its witness. We’re telling the story of God’s works, great and small, done among us (and usually in spite of us) “on the ground”, so it’s completely appropriate to have some reverent fun with the task.
For additional information and samples of church histories please contact Paul Daniels, archivist for the Synods of ELCA Region 3 at 651.641.3205 or email@example.com.