Capsules give a sense of history

18:59, Mar 23 2014
John McMullan
BACK IN TIME: Wilson St Baptist Pastor John McMullan, left, and longtime parishioner Bob Auty open the 1939 time capsule which was buried in the foundations of the church hall and uncovered during demolition recently.

A 1939 time capsule was opened at Wilson St Baptist Church yesterday revealing some of its history and coinciding with the church's 100th anniversary.

The capsule was one of two uncovered in the church's hall foundations during a recent $1 million redevelopment. A second capsule from 1964 was also found.

A Timaru Herald, New Zealand Baptist magazine and beautifully handwritten letters were among items stashed in Agee jar capsules.

Pastor John McMullan said it was "incredible" opening them during yesterday's service in front of the congregation of about 160, some of whom had witnessed the capsules being laid.

"It is a sense of connection with the past and with the people who served and gave their time and energy. It's a sense of heritage and history which gives meaning to what we are doing," Pastor McMullan said.

Parishioner Bob Auty has attended the church all his life and was a 3-year-old when the first capsule was buried under the foundation stone of the hall.


"In those days whole families always came to church. You weren't allowed to sew or prepare a meal on Sundays," he said.

Mr Auty recalls attending the church three times every Sunday as a child, with morning service, evening service and Sunday School in the afternoon.

The church community was also the place where he met his late wife Doreen. Their five children also grew up in the church.

He said looking at the notes and old papers from the capsules had been "exciting".

The items will be scanned for posterity and returned to a new capsule alongside some yet to be decided modern items. The capsule will be buried in the new hall when it is completed later this year.

The Timaru Herald