Archive for the ‘Church’ Category
Well, my sidekick Andrew and I have returned from the ALABI annual meeting in Richmond, Virginia. With apologies to Travis Tritt, not only is it "a long way to Richmond driving north on 95," it's also a long way to Richmond driving east on 64. Still, the trip was great and I think we both had a really good time listening to the presentations and cavorting with fellow librarians and archivists.
The conference took place at the IMB building in Richmond. I was surprised at how many of the participants had never been to the building (Andrew and I were among that number) although many who had not been learned the address when they were going through RAs and GAs. I don't think I ever learned the address, but I still remember the RA pledge.
We were extremely impressed with the IMB facilities, especially the library, archives, and records management areas we saw. The IMB has a first class facility for taking care of the various types of records, and Southern Baptists should be happy that some of their CP giving goes toward preserving the history of SBC missions work. We were also amazed at how diminutive Lottie Moon was. Here is a picture of 6 feet tall Andrew beside a life size picture of Lottie.
Getting to see old friends and meet new ones is always an advantage of going to conferences. I got to spend time with all of the SBHLA gang (Bill, Taffey, and Kathy) as well as my former archives colleague Nathan Finn. I also had a chance to hang out with DebbiLee Landi, the archivist for Furman University. If you are ever working on a writing project about South Carolina Baptists, you simply must go work with the Baptist Historical Collection at Furman. DebbiLee and her staff are always gracious, and their new facilities are, well, off the hizzie. The decor in their research room really makes you want to pursue research, after you marvel at the decor for about ten minutes–lots of wood, muted tones, and high ceilings.
I also had the opportunity to meet some new faces. On Wednesday morning, I had breakfast with Bill Sumners, and he introduced me to Alan Lefever and Naomi Taplin, both of whom made me laugh and offered helpful advice about pursuing an MLIS degree. I met Laura Botts of Mercer University, who was one of the younger archivists at the conference. We had a brief opportunity to talk about wikis, blogs, and how archivists need to begin embracing the whole 2.0 meme. I met several other archivists who had been around the ALABI/SBLA circuit for a number of years, and I was encouraged to see people who had happily cared for Baptist collections for a number of years. Some were working with Baptist materials before I was born! They were very open and cordial to the "new blood" that has come into the association, and they were even kind enough to listen to my rambling attempt at a presentation, despite the fact that I am an ignorant newbie. I appreciate their graciousness and look forward to working with this group for years to come!
I will post more later about the presentations.
The second day of ALABI will soon be underway. I thought I would check in briefly and let everyone know the meeting is going well. I was planning on blogging more about the event, but for some unknown reason, my computer came up with the cryptic white message on a black screen "No operating system found." Windows is supposed to just work. Well, I installed Fedora Core 5, but it did not recognize my wireless card, so I am currently using an IMB computer. I will summarize more of the conference later.
On Wednesday, May 31, I will be speaking at the ALABI meeting in Richmond, Virginia. I am involved in a section on Baptist Research and Statistics. Basically, I will be looking at the way researchers at my institution use Baptist statistics, and proposing a way that I think librarians, Lifeway, and the entire Southern Baptist Convention could work together to better preserve and make accessible our data. My proposal is just an idea that I had, and should in no way be construed as anything more than this. I would love for the convention to consider it, but it could be nothing more than one archivist's pipe dream. I will try to post a series that will better explain all this later, along with what I see as the advantages and disadvantages of my proposal.
As a service to those attending, I include the text that will appear in my Power Point presentation below. For the record, the section on connectors, mavens, and salesmen is taken from Malcom Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point.
- How researchers at SBTS use statistics
- To answer cultural questions
- To corroborate findings
- To analyze worldview patterns
- To analyze church health
- For background information on a potential employer
- Statistical resources researchers use
- Diaries, journals, serendipitous reading
- Reports from Joshua Project and IMB
- World Christian Database and CIA World Fact Book
- Baptist newspapers
- Baptist Minutes
- Southern Baptist Directory Service
- Baptist Quarterly Review
- What SBTS Researchers Want
- The nearly impossible
- Ease of access to Baptist statistics
- Ease of access to non-Baptist statistics
- Standardized data
- Difficulties for creating access
- Acquisition Issues
- Collecting minutes takes time and space
- Who is responsible?
- Preservation Issues
- Proprietary formats
- Acquisition Issues
- An Answer
- A web based solution for Baptist minutes
- Open Source
- Exports to multiple formats (XML, HTML, PDF, .txt, .doc)
- Able to handle all types of minutes
- All levels (Convention, State, Associational, Church)
- All time periods (retrospective and prospective)
- All data (statistics, reports, circular letters, queries, list of ministers)
- A Convention wide effort
- Promoted and underwritten by Lifeway
- In conjunction with the research initiative
- Lightning press printing of minutes
- Able to be contributed to by people at every level
- Spreads labor
- Many eyes looking at it
- Promoted and underwritten by Lifeway
- A web based solution for Baptist minutes
- What can we do
- Volunteer to help work on an answer
- Talk to others about preservation and access problems
- Connectors– unique people who connect us to everyone else
- Mavens– those who accumulate knowledge
- Salesmen– persuade people to accept new information
Urge better statistic gathering practices
- Make relationships with archivists from other denominations
"I entreat you, Madam, let me have two lines from you concerning your present condition. I know ye are in grief and heaviness; and if it were not so, ye might be afraid, because then your way should not be so like the way that (our Lord said) leadeth to the New Jerusalem. Sure I am, if ye knew what were before you, or if ye saw but some glances of it, ye would with gladness swim through the present floods of sorrow, spreading forth your arms out of a desire to be at land."
–February 1, 1630 letter from S. R. to Lady Kenmure, after she had left his parish.
"What ye love more than Jesus, your husband, is an adulterous lover."
–January 15, 1629 letter to from S. R. to Lady Kenmure
Like many archivists, I entered the profession because I have a profound love of the past. More precisely, I became an archivist because I love to study the acts and movements of God in the past, and I am concerned about their being documented. God often uses people, churches, institutions, organizations, movements, and events to accomplish his purposes and to declare the gospel of his son, Jesus Christ. As an archivist, I get the priviledge of preserving and making available records that document God's acts and movements.
One of the advantages of working in a religious archives is that doing so allows you to rub elbows with saints (and sinners) who have gone on before you. For example, one of the earliest tasks that I had as an archives assistant was to help the archivist transcribe the correspondence between two of the founders of our institution, both of whom had served as Civil War chaplains. I was privy to their successes and failures, their piety and pettiness, and their faithful endurance as they pursued their life work. Towards the end of the work, I was transcribing through tears as I saw the undying devotion to Christ of the institution's first president as he labored through pain while his death was approaching. And although I know that history is in no sense authoritative, in this case, it was edifying.
I was reminded of all this during the course of this past week. Another birthday rolled around for me, and I was delighted when my pastor gave me a copy of the Letters of Samuel Rutherford. Many are familiar with Samuel Rutherford because he was the author of Lex, Rex. Rutherford was not only a political theorist, he was also a devoted minister of Jesus Christ.
I love rubbing elbows with Rutherford. I can remember first becoming acquainted with his God-honoring piety back in 1998 while I was attending North Greenville College. My current pastor was then just my buddy and classmate. I was over at his apartment, and he read some of Rutherford's letters to me. I was amazed at Rutherford's forthrightness and God-centeredness as he counseled others through his sometimes lengthy epistles. Take, for example, the following excerpt from Rutherford's July 27, 1628 letter to the Vicecountess of Kenmure:
Therefore, worthy lady, so count little of yourself, because of your own wretchedness and sinful drowsiness, that ye count not also little of God, in the course of his unchangeable mercy.
Think little of yourself so that you will not think little of God! In our present age of self indulgence, how many pastors are willing to say that to their members ?!?! Or consider this one, from the same letter.
Ye have now, Madam, a sickness before you; and also after that a death. Gather then now food for the journey. God give you eyes to see through sickness and death, and to see something beyond death. I doubt not but that, if hell were betwixt you and Christ, as a river which ye behoved to cross ere you could come at Him, but ye would willingly put in your foot, and make through to be at Him, upon hope that He would come in Himself, in the deepest of the river, and lend you His hand. Now, I believe your hell is dried up, and ye have only these two shallow brooks, sickness and death, to pass through; and ye have also a promise that Christ shall do more than meet you, even that He shall come Himself, and go with you foot for foot, yea and bear you in his arms.
While Rutherford would probably have been too verbiose for the blogosphere, his letters are worthy of careful contemplation. Rutherford's letters reflect the practical application of a God-centered Christianity, and I think Christians would do well to ponder the way Rutherford applies the Bible to every facet of life.
Of course, not everyone would agree with my assesment. The Wikipedia article on Rutherford currently says that his letters, "display a fervour of feeling and a rich imagery which, while highly relished by some, repel others." Well, I guess you can't please everyone. I am certain, however, that the letters will be relished by all those for whom God has "shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:6)
If my wife or boss asks me where I will be on May 31-June 1 of this year, I have an ALABI. No, I am not a poor speller, and I have nothing to scream about. On those two days, I will be in Richmond, Virginia at the second annual meeting of ALABI, the Association of Librarians and Archivists of Baptist Institutions.
The group was formerly known as –no, wait a minute–that was Prince. ALABI was formerly known as the Southern Baptist Librarian Association. That name did not really account for the fact that many of the members were archivists who worked with Baptist historical collections. So, those of us who are archivists are now officially recognized.
I say all this to encourage anyone who works with Baptist archives or manuscript collections to join the group, read the newsletter, and attend the annual meeting. Participation in this group is a great way for Baptist librarians and archivists to network, collaborate, and offer training. Plus, the membership dues are so low that if they went any lower, the group would have to change its name to Crazy Larry's Discount Association of Librarians and Archivists at Baptist Institutions–and CLDALABI is just way too many letters.
Because I am an archivist in a religious institution, I often get the question, “How should I take care of my Church’s records.” This is a vitally important question, especially if your church and denomination stresses local church autonomy like mine does. In a Baptist context, each individual church is largely responsible for keeping up with their own records and archives because Baptists do not have a hierarchical ecclesiastical structure. Basically, no one is going to make a church preserve their records. If the records are going to be preserved, the church administration or church members will have to care about it.
While I could make several posts on this subject myself, I think it would be difficult to improve upon some resources that others have already produced. The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville produced a series of helps on how to start and maintain an archive in your church. These articles cover a broad range of topics such as arrangement, description, records management, and microfilming. They also address what to do with those pesky scrapbooks. In addition to these articles, you may want to go to your local library and see if you can find Robert Shuster’s article, “Documenting the Spirit” from American Archivist 45, Spring 1982. Shuster is the archivist at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton. This article isn’t necessary for getting started, but when you have put in a long day’s work organizing your church’s records, and you sit back and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” you will probably find Shuster an encouragement.
Finally, there are a couple of books that I would recommend for starting an archive in your church. The first is Elizabeth Yakel’s Starting an Archives and the second is David Carmichael’s Organizing Archival Records.
Both of these books are pretty simple, and the Carmichael book even comes with a nice little piece CD-ROM that you can use to help organize your records if you have a computer with Microsoft Access on it.