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Presbyterian Museum: ... artifacts for the new Presbyterian Museum.

My dear editor:

Synod has long since met, but the reverberations from decisions made there have just begun to tremble in the consciousness of our presbyters. The timelapse was actually shorter this year because our commissioners didn't take as long to recover. They had trained for their task by watching the Weather Channel for 60 hours straight.

They reported that though the debate on the necessity of roughage in the menus of Camp Anathema was absorbing, they were more deeply moved by the announcement that we Presbyterians now have a national museum!

Our presbytery matriarch, Ms. Whisty, immediately broke into tears. After she went through several tissues, her friends, sensing grief rather than joy, went to her. In an exchange of what were meant to be whispers, they discovered she had her hearing aid turned off and had understood the commissioners to say Presbyterians are now a national museum. She reacted somewhat testily to all attempts to mollify her distress. In a loud voice (her hearing aid was still off), she asked: "Whose tomfool idea was that? Whatever do we need such a thing for?"

The commissioners tried valiantly to answer at least the second of her questions with the explanation as it was delivered unto them the same night it was announced at synod.

The Archives will continue to be the repository for congregational records -- Communion rolls, session minutes, etc. -- provided they are on microfilm. There is no space left for records on paper. The museum will be the repository for all other miscellaneous "stuff" of historic import. ("Stuff" was, I assure you, dear Editor, the precise and operative word.)

I have a dim recollection (more and more of my recollections fit that category) that, somewhere in our church, an ardent collector has put together the world's largest collection of Communion tokens that would be fitting and of interest. (Who knows? The day may come when they will be negotiable currency.) But what other artifacts will be gathered and displayed there? Or, more important, what is it that falls outside of the category of "stuff"?

I can imagine an inventory made several years hence:

* 1,397 reproductions of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper done in assorted modes: paint-by-number, on black velvet, picked out with little shells and bearing the inscription "Souvenir of Antigua," and in uncooked macaroni painted by little hands at a vacation Bible school

* 983 old pulpit Bibles, all in the King James Version, most with broken spines and all falling open naturally somewhere in the middle, among the Psalms, so that the minister could place his notes without worry of them sliding off

* 426 CGIT middies, but only on loan in case there is a renaissance of interest ... somewhere ... sometime

* assorted banners, trophy cups and hangings: some bearing inscriptions of Sunday school triumphs (Awarded to the Sunday School of Knox, East Westchester -- Presbytery Bible Spelling Champions 1931: Winning word "Nebuchadnezzar"), and some of recent vintage that seemed to be a good idea at the time.

Perhaps, there could be a special exhibit in a room of its own: The 1925 Room. A list of all the congregations that went into Union could be inscribed on a huge plaque under the inscription "Where the Flag of Faith Once Flew." Paraphernalia from old campaigns could be gathered there as well: pamphlets, banners, T-shirts, bookmarks, etc., from the National Development Fund, the Second Century Advance for Christ and Live the Vision.

I suppose waxwork figures of past Assembly Moderators might have to wait until funds become available; but, in the meantime, maybe we could persuade past Moderators to donate their lace.

We understood the museum-to-be has been given space in a Toronto church near one of that city's more infamous jails, one the Ministry of Corrections would like to close. Should that happen and the jail become a museum as well, maybe we could work out a package deal to promote both. We could sell a two-for-one ticket for the "Degradation and Salvation Tour."

I, for one (though there may be more), can hardly wait!

Yours curatorially,
COPYRIGHT 1997 Presbyterian Record
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Author:Plymley, II Peter
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Date:Jan 1, 1997
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