Opening history | Jamestown church opens time capsule from 1961Exactly 50 years after the construction started at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, members took a look back in time this weekend to remember their roots.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Exactly 50 years after the construction started at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, members took a look back in time this weekend to remember their roots.
Sunday marked the anniversary and a handful of members with ties to that day five decades ago told their stories to the rest of the congregation.
Roy Werner is the only surviving member in this area that was on the church’s building committee in 1961.
“We wanted to build a church for the future, for the present and the future,” Werner said.
Back then, the congregation was growing and was too large for its former building, which was located about 50 yards south of where Gate City Bank sits today.
St. Paul’s took a chance and moved to what was farmland on Fifth Avenue Northeast. They purchased the lot for $10,000.
“Nobody thought of moving out of the city of Jamestown,” Werner said of other churches from that time. “It was difficult to think a congregation of 400 people would just pick up and move out of town.”
There was minimal development at that time. The view in all directions was basically farmland, he said.
To mark the occasion in 1961, members took various church documents from that time and placed them in a time capsule behind the building’s cornerstone.
The cornerstone was removed and on Sunday various documents helped to tell the story of St. Paul’s past.
A Bible and a hymn book were sealed along with a church bulletin with the name Jim Unruh printed in it.
Unruh is currently chairman of the Jamestown College Board of Trustees.
Another interesting item was a Sunday school program book printed in German. The church had two Sunday schools back then; one in German and one in English.
Similar documents including a church directory will be placed back in the time capsule, which will be opened again 50 years from now.
“Now you young folks, 50 years down the line you have a responsibility, too,” Werner said.
Ruth Strutz, a church member with a family history at St. Paul’s, read a letter from Kenneth Koth, pastor at the time of the construction.
Koth, now 90, lives in an assisted living facility in Iowa, but had vivid memories of his time in Jamestown. Stories he wrote about including finding fellowship in boxing and breaking his leg after a volleyball injury with a Lutheran pastor.
The Rev. Arlyn Coalter said a strong past is important, but so is an interest in the future.
“It’s humbling and also empowering,” he said of Sunday’s program. “Humbling because of what’s happened before and empowering for what’s going on in the future of this church.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com