On a small rise above the east side of Old Frederick Road in the community of Utica sits St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.
In 1769, a log cabin was built on this site that was used as a schoolhouse and also as a church by four worshipping congregations: Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, and Dunkards.
In 1838, a new church building was started and completed in 1840. Deterioration led to the construction of a new building in 1889.
St. Paul’s is proud to be celebrating its 250th Anniversary in 2019.
Each month, we have held a different celebration that has been planned by various groups in the congregation. In July, the church’s plan was to open the time capsules from the 1839 and 1889 buildings.
As the saying goes, the best-laid plans do not always go well.
We first thought the time capsules would be behind the cornerstones. After a few hours of work and going back nearly eight inches into the church wall, it became apparent that there was no time capsule to be found.
Not wanting to give up, we regrouped and did a bit of research. We found that it was common at that time to carve out an opening on top of the cornerstone. Sure enough, after removing a few courses of brick above the cornerstone, we located the 1889 time capsule!
Among the items we found were copies of the newspapers, Reformed Church Messenger (dated April 10, 1889), The Christian World (dated August 29, 1889), The Lutheran Observer (dated August 16, 1889), copies of the Newly Arranged Heidelberg Catechism, Smaller Catechism, hymn books from both the Lutheran and Reformed churches, a list of church members and officers, and a few silver coins.
The metal box we found the items in was not sealed, so 130 years did take a bit of a toll and some of the items are pretty fragile. However, it has been very exciting to see these pieces of history and to think of the people that realized it was important to preserve these items for future generations to discover. These items, along with memorabilia from our celebration year, will be placed into a new time capsule that will be buried on the church grounds at the end of December. I hope that the next person that wants to open our time capsule will be grateful that they won’t have to break into a wall to find it!
An opening was carved out in the top of the 1889 cornerstone at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, where the time capsule was eventually located.