July Second Sunday Offering
Congregational Library and Archives
The Congregational Library and Archives in Boston, Massachusetts, will receive our Second Sunday offering in July. The CLA is an unparalleled source of information about the religious activities of the early colonists, and many other aspects of early American life. http://www.congregationallibrary.org/
Archives of Congregational History. One of our congregants, Anne Mascolino, inherited a unique and well-preserved photo album that had been created by her grandparents while missionaries in China in the early 20th century. She wanted to donate it to a place where it would be cared for and appreciated. Her grandparents had been supported primarily by the Congregational Church’s American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Given that connection, the CLA was delighted to add Anne’s album to their collection. In the fall of 2017, after leading a nurture at First Church to display the album and tell her grandparents’ story, Anne donated the album to the CLA, where it will be studied alongside many other original records of the Congregational Church’s 20th century missions.
The Library’s Hidden Histories program preserves and makes available the records of the nation’s earliest Congregational churches. These documents “open a window onto the lives of ordinary people deliberating on matters both sacred and secular.” http://www.congregationallibrary.org/nehh/main
Public Education. The Library is digitizing its collection, making these records available for free to anyone who has access to the internet. When considering whether this effort would reduce the in-person library visits, the CLA discovered that, on the contrary, widening the public’s access to the primary documents of congregational history stimulated an increase in requests to research the archives in person.
Next year will mark the 400th anniversary of the landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620. The CLA is a partner in New England Beginnings, a collaborative effort to mark this milestone and raise awareness of its significance, including taking a fresh look at the history of women and Native Americans of that time. www.newenglandbeginnings.org
Inspired by this anniversary, the CLA has developed a curriculum for local churches and others interested in learning about the church and world of the Pilgrims, and how they influence us today. It will be available this fall.
Lectures and programs of the Library, some of which have been broadcast on C-SPAN TV, are available online.
Why does this history matter? This history, and the Library’s repository of documents that express it, matter because Congregationalists have deeply informed American culture, and who we became as a nation. The movement we call “congregationalism,” rooted in the Reformation, asserted the belief that each congregation should be self-governing, and composed of believers joined together by a covenant agreement, with the power to select their own minister. Sound familiar? These reformers changed history. They developed new ways of being church, and spawned multiple variations of congregationalism. They helped to inspire the constitutional basis of our democracy.
Financial Support. To carry out its mission, the CLA needs financial help. It receives funds from grants, individual donors, congregations, and congregational denominations, including the UCC. It is fitting for churches which are leaders in our denomination, such as First Congregational United Church of Christ in DC, to be on the roster of congregations which support the CLA. Thank you for your generosity.
Karen Byrne, CLA board member
Jean Alexander, CLA member