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Oklahoma City church prepares for opening of centennial time capsule

Modern-day equipment was used to help First Lutheran Church of Oklahoma City leaders learn more about a 100-year-old time capsule buried in the church's basement floor. It will be opened in April.
by Carla Hinton Modified: November 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm •  Published: November 17, 2012

The images picked up by the endoscope were shown on a video monitor for Peterson and others gathered to see.

The images showed concrete, evidence of condensation and what the archaeological crew ascertained to be evidence of the oxidation of the copper-lined box containing the chest.

Chad Williams, deputy director of the Oklahoma Historical Society's research division, looked on with excitement.

He said the modern-day counterparts of the groups that placed items in the time capsule have been contacted and invited to be part of the Century Chest ceremony. He said the historical society also plans to create exhibits focusing on the Century Chest and its contents.

“The church wants to share this with the state,” Williams said. “We want all those people involved, because it's really a celebration of the city and the state.”

Historic fundraiser

First Lutheran Church was formed in 1902, and members began meeting in the courthouse in Oklahoma City. Peterson said the church's current building near the corner of NW 13 and Robinson was built in 1912, and leaders were looking for ways to cover the cost of a new Moller pipe organ.

He said the Century Chest project was put together in about three months to help pay for the musical instrument. Peterson said individuals, families and groups paid to place items in the time capsule, although he is not sure how much they gave.

“Across the nation, how many thought of something like this? It's very rare,” he said.

The pastor said the project was timed so that the chest would be sealed and buried on April 22, 1913, the 24th anniversary of the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889.

Peterson said every April since then, the church's congregation has gathered in the building's basement to pledge not to forget the box of historical treasure contained there.

“They promise that it will be remembered by the children and their children's children,” he said.

Peterson said the project planners left eight pages of notes documenting the items in the chest. However, he said he and historical society leaders expect to find many undocumented items, because the Century Chest planners noted that some things were placed in the chest at the last minute.

Williams said the historical society is producing a documentary about the project in addition to creating an exhibit for the Oklahoma History Center. He said a traveling exhibit also is planned so people from different parts of the state will get to see items from the chest.

Williams said pictures of those items will be placed on a special Century Chest website that will be launched after the first of the year.

“They didn't want this to be forgotten, and it won't be,” Williams said.

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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