Construction workers were in for a big surprise when they discovered a time capsule filled with historical and religious documents during the demolition of St. Paul’s Church in Berkeley, Calif., last week.
The capsule, a 10-inch-by-8-inch copper box, contained a Bible from 1875, newspaper articles about the church’s construction in 1948, documents supporting temperance, old sermons and other records.
It was opened Monday after developer William Schrader Jr., who is building an apartment building at the site, delivered it to Pastor Leonard Nielson of the Presbytery of San Francisco, Berkeleyside reported.
The presbytery, part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), was the former owner of the property, so Schrader decided to offer the unopened time capsule back to the mainline denomination.
The copper box was soldered shut, preventing both air and water from entering it, leaving everything intact for when Nielson opened it.
Other items he discovered included a denominational book of government from 1926, a short history of the church’s founding and programs from the groundbreaking ceremony in 1948.
St. Paul’s Church closed in the 1980s, though the Presbytery of San Francisco later used the building for its offices. Officials, however, were unaware that the box was buried within the walls.
If anything else, the time capsule provides a lens into Berkeley’s past — a time during which people were recovering from World War II’s impact on America.
“It’s a story about a particular time that doesn’t exist anymore, how people lived in neighborhoods. The church was a big social connection in those days,” Nielson told Berkeleyside. “You can look at the time capsule and realize the whole story of how that little teeny church got started. These little churches were built with enthusiasm and a very, very local connection.”
While St. Paul’s Church is no more, Schrader plans to keep the time capsule tradition alive.
The developer will return the box to its original cornerstone after filling it with modern-day elements. And he will also incorporate the church’s copper steeple into the building’s design in order to carry some of the past into the future.
TheBlaze will soon be telling you more about Berkeley’s intriguing religious history. Read the full story behind the time capsule here.
Featured image via Leonard Nielson, Presbytery of SF