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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Voices from the past

Remodeling project unearths time capsule

Members of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Poestenkill, N.Y., recently received some shocking news: President Lincoln was assassinated.

Of course the news was not new. But the headline printed on the still-pristine newspaper was met with gasps from members who came to witness the opening of a time capsule, placed in the church cornerstone more than 100 years ago.

The capsule, a small copper box, was found after workers damaged the foundation during an expansion project.

The church turned the event into an open house. Some members wore period costumes, and church council member Gary Blauvelt portrayed Deacon Jacob Ives who placed the box in the cornerstone in the 19th century.

The first person to reach into the box was Alice Sagendorf, Ives' great-great-granddaughter. She pulled out a small Bible dated 1864.

The box was believed to have been buried May 16, 1865, but some documents enclosed, including a sermon dated 1886 and a newspaper from 1887, suggest the box was sealed several years later.

Besides the Bible and the newspaper headline announcing Lincoln's death, the box contained a small hymnal and a copy of The Lutheran Observer, a predecessor of The Lutheran magazine.

After the capsule's contents were placed in a glass case, a new capsule was filled with a modern hymnal, a recent bulletin, a church member list and letters from the congregation. The church's young people suggested the capsule be opened in 2146 so their great-grandchildren can see the dramatic changes that they did.


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