Century-Old Time Capsule Contents to be Revealed

Century-Old Time Capsule Contents to be Revealed

Lora Parsons

The Ashland Beacon

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Centuries ago, in the year 1675, Sir Isaac Newton--in a letter likely only intended for one set of eyes--penned the words: “If I have seen further [than others], it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Fast forward 349 years and the truth of that sentiment can still be found in others who don’t want any sort of singular credit for something they know they aren’t solely responsible. This is exactly the case with the Christ Methodist Church congregation, a body of believers whose sole purpose in everything they do is to lift up Jesus, not self. Their recent discovery of a time capsule behind the building’s cornerstone has provided members with an opportunity to share the spotlight with one another as they tell the story of their own history.


Steven Wheeler, knowing that the 100th anniversary was approaching, found himself curious about whether or not there might be a time capsule somewhere inside the building’s structure. While the church originally started in 1892, the building housing it wasn’t constructed until 1924, and Wheeler just felt like the possibility of a time capsule was high. He approached several of the older church members to see if they knew anything about one but ran into dead ends over and over. No one had any information of such. Still, Wheeler found this curiosity something he just couldn’t shake. As many with questions often do, he turned to YouTube to research time capsules and found there a wealth of information about their common locations in buildings of that age. Following these digital leads, he decided to investigate further. With the help of his daughter, Mackenzie, the two worked to run a camera behind the cornerstone, where his curiosity ignited into a possible hit.  He initially dismissed the idea as wishful thinking, reasoning that it was likely just some utility element the camera had picked up. He decided to remove the cornerstone just in case there actually was something in the camera’s view.

Wheeler called Pastor Michael McAlister with the news that he just might have seen something there. Wheeler’s son, Conner, also showed up to help with the removal of the cornerstone, all of which Pastor McAlister recorded. Wheeler’s curiosity was promptly rewarded with a 12-inch long, 10-inch wide wooden box built of crude planks of wood, dusty with age and bowed upward almost as if by the same sense of hope that drew Wheeler to continue on. After pulling it from the place it had rested for just shy of 100 years, Wheeler shook the box to confirm that there actually were contents inside. The decision was made to open the box just a bit in order to determine if the contents were merely building materials or the makings of a snapshot into the world from 100 years ago. Two boards were carefully removed, while the recording rolled on, catching a glimpse of what appeared to be two books and perhaps some Sunday School material. After seeing that the box was indeed intentionally placed there as a time capsule, Wheeler said they nailed the boards back in place “to let the Deacons and Elders open it” the rest of the way.

Since then a growing sense of wonder has accompanied the entire congregation. Wheeler finds himself in awe that “God would choose me to reveal this to.” Speaking with him leads directly to his acknowledgment that so many others in the church deserve the spotlight that this find tries to put him in the center of. He mentioned several faithful servants of God and the church in sharing the details of the story, reiterating each time their collective desire to be sure that none of them received credit for the excitement that the time capsule has generated. As a whole, the congregation wants two messages to take center stage as they unveil the capsule’s contents. The first of those messages is that “God’s Word and work are still relevant today,” and the other is that the congregants who buried this time capsule are the ones who deserve any credit that should be given. They are the giants in this story--those men and women who “paved the way, cleared the path for us to serve the Lord. We can’t carry their water,” Wheeler shared. Going on to quote the Biblical truth that “faith without works is dead,” he reiterated again just how indebted their whole congregation is to the church’s forefathers in having the foresight to not only bury the time capsule but to do so likely knowing that one day their legacy just might be used to cheer on a new generation of workers for the Kingdom. The whole purpose of those attending Christ Methodist Church is to draw others into a relationship with Jesus so that His service continues. That’s what they sensed was the desire of the church workers who placed the time capsule behind the cornerstone in the first place.

That’s their desire now--to continue that legacy. And, that’s the legacy they hope to leave behind in sharing this 100-year-old artifact with the community. Their ultimate desire is to simply share Jesus with whoever might be intrigued by their unique find. The Bible tells us, after all, in 1 Peter that a cornerstone has been laid down--a cornerstone chosen and precious. Without question, Jesus is the cornerstone this scripture refers to, and it is His great love for us that Christ Methodist Church has rested upon for the past 100 years. It’s no small miracle that their cornerstone contained a time capsule, in a sense, allowing parts of the congregations from the past to live on, a century into the future. And, they would be quick to tell you that it is a personal relationship with the chief Cornerstone--Jesus--that will allow all believers to live on into Eternity forever.

The final reveal of the time capsule’s contents will take place Sunday, March 17 at 10:35 a.m., at the church, located at 2335 Pollard Road, Ashland, KY 41101. Soup will be served for lunch following the service, and the time capsule will be fully opened at 12:30. The church would especially love to have anyone with connections to its past congregants in attendance, so they can share just how much it means to them that the work of those who have gone before has left a trail worth following. They are indebted to those on whose shoulders they currently stand.

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