Time capsule uncovers history


First United Methodist Church opened capsule Sunday

By Hope Lecchi - [email protected]



Larry Claycomb, left, and Pastor Jim Downing of the First United Methodist Church Celebration Center carefully examine a Book of Discipline found in a time capsule from the former downtown First United Methodist Church on Sunday evening during a worship service. The time capsule was discovered Saturday morning after Downing noticed some irregularities in the cornerstone that contained the time capsule from the downtown church that was destroyed by fire in March. Claycomb’s great-grandmother would bring her pump organ to church each Sunday by horse and wagon to play for the services at the church.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

A copy of the Sedalia Democrat from Saturday, Sept. 15, 1888, was one of the items placed in the time capsule by members of the First United Methodist Church when it was hidden in the cornerstone of the church constructed in 1888. According to Pastor Jim Downing, there was no mention of the time capsule’s existence in any church records. He added the only way it would have been discovered was for the church to have been destroyed.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Pastor Jim Downing of the First United Methodist Church leads the congregation in prayer before opening the time capsule, located in the cornerstone of the former downtown First United Methodist Church that was destroyed by fire March 2. Downing thanked God for all those who had come before who built the church with the faith and assurance that God would stand by them.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Pastor Jim Downing, left, and Rodney Iuchs look at several of the items placed near a Bible that were found in the cornerstone time capsule from the First United Methodist Church downtown location on Sunday evening. Many of the items were removed from the eight-by-eight-inch tin box and placed on the altar for the members to view. The time capsule was placed in the cornerstone in 1888 where it remained until it was removed Saturday morning. Iuchs is one of five generations from his family who have attended services at First United Methodist.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

A young girl leans over the edge of the stage at the Celebration Center Sunday evening to get a closer view of two of the items housed in the cornerstone time capsule of First United Methodist Church downtown location. The downtown church was destroyed by fire in March with the cornerstone being one of the few items recovered. Members of the church removed the hidden time capsule Saturday morning but left it unopened until Sunday night’s prayer service.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Members of the First United Methodist Church came together Sunday evening to worship in celebration of a discovery that came from a deep loss to the church family.

On March 2, when the downtown location of the church was destroyed by a late night fire which left the 1888 stone building in ruins, no one truly expected to find a hidden treasure in the stone rubble, especially not three months later.

Earlier this week, such a revelation came to Pastor Jim Downing when he, quite by accident, stumbled upon a time capsule encased in the cornerstone of the 1888 church.

“We celebrated an extra blessing (Sunday) night as we opened the time capsule,” Downing told the Democrat after the service. “Nowhere in the church records was there ever any mention of this existing; in fact it is something of a miracle that we found it at all.”

On March 4, when the church was razed after the fire, the original cornerstone was brought to the Celebration Center when it remained intact until Saturday.

“When the cornerstone arrived here we held a memorial service to show our gratitude that no one was injured in the fire and for the blessing God has given us,” Downing said. “We each placed a stone on top of the cornerstone and those stones remained there for weeks.

“Tuesday I noticed the rocks had been removed and the middle had a different color square of stone on the top of it so I started to tap around on it and I heard a hollow sound.”

Downing and a group who were meeting at the church stepped outside to try to decide what steps they should take in finding out what was inside the stone.

A group met at 8 a.m. Saturday and drilled a small hole in the top of the cornerstone, placing a small camera through the hole to see what was inside.

“The wire hit something that sounded like tin and that’s when a parishioner brought a hammer out and we started to break through the stone,” he added. “Throughout the entire time we did the best we could not to damage the box.”

The church had planned a prayer walk for Sunday night, Downing said, adding it would have been the third one the church made as a congregation.

The group had planned to walk from the Celebration Center on 32nd Street to the corner of Fourth Street and Osage Avenue, site of the destroyed church.

“The first walk was when we built the Celebration Center in June of 1998 and the second was a year later in April of 1999 when the construction was completed,” he added. “The rains stopped us from talking the walk (Sunday) night but we will reschedule it for a later date.”

Before opening the time capsule, Downing led the congregation in prayer.

“God, we give You thanks for all who have come before us and built the church with the faith and assurance that You would stand by them,” Downing prayed. “We pray that You bless us in whatever we do in the future as You did them.”

Downing and parishioner Larry Claycomb then removed the lid and removed the first item, a letter that was believed to contain the names of the pastors who had served at the church prior to 1888.

The time capsule contained other papers, drawings and newspapers as well as a Methodist Book of Discipline from 1884 and a hymnal.

“”I was surprised that there were no actual photographs showing the history of the congregation that was established in 1861,” Downing said after the event. “Many of the items seem to be remarkably well preserved and some may be the only items that we have from the time.

“We have contacted the archivist at Central Methodist University and we will make arrangements for them to look at the materials and advise us on how we should preserve the materials, because we certainly don’t want to damage or destroy any of them,” he added. “I would have been delighted if we never would have found these things because by finding them it meant the church had been destroyed.”

When asked if the congregation had made plans on rebuilding, Downing said a building committee has been formed but it was in the opening stages.

“It is all still very fresh for us and I know everyone wants to know what we are going to do, but we simply don’t know at this time,” Downing said. “We are in prayer and when the time comes we will know we have made the right decision,” he added thoughtfully. “Whatever decision we make it will be through Him and it will glorify God.”

Larry Claycomb, left, and Pastor Jim Downing of the First United Methodist Church Celebration Center carefully examine a Book of Discipline found in a time capsule from the former downtown First United Methodist Church on Sunday evening during a worship service. The time capsule was discovered Saturday morning after Downing noticed some irregularities in the cornerstone that contained the time capsule from the downtown church that was destroyed by fire in March. Claycomb’s great-grandmother would bring her pump organ to church each Sunday by horse and wagon to play for the services at the church.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_tsd062816church1.jpgLarry Claycomb, left, and Pastor Jim Downing of the First United Methodist Church Celebration Center carefully examine a Book of Discipline found in a time capsule from the former downtown First United Methodist Church on Sunday evening during a worship service. The time capsule was discovered Saturday morning after Downing noticed some irregularities in the cornerstone that contained the time capsule from the downtown church that was destroyed by fire in March. Claycomb’s great-grandmother would bring her pump organ to church each Sunday by horse and wagon to play for the services at the church. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

A copy of the Sedalia Democrat from Saturday, Sept. 15, 1888, was one of the items placed in the time capsule by members of the First United Methodist Church when it was hidden in the cornerstone of the church constructed in 1888. According to Pastor Jim Downing, there was no mention of the time capsule’s existence in any church records. He added the only way it would have been discovered was for the church to have been destroyed.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_tsd062816church2.jpgA copy of the Sedalia Democrat from Saturday, Sept. 15, 1888, was one of the items placed in the time capsule by members of the First United Methodist Church when it was hidden in the cornerstone of the church constructed in 1888. According to Pastor Jim Downing, there was no mention of the time capsule’s existence in any church records. He added the only way it would have been discovered was for the church to have been destroyed. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Pastor Jim Downing of the First United Methodist Church leads the congregation in prayer before opening the time capsule, located in the cornerstone of the former downtown First United Methodist Church that was destroyed by fire March 2. Downing thanked God for all those who had come before who built the church with the faith and assurance that God would stand by them.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_tsd062816church3.jpgPastor Jim Downing of the First United Methodist Church leads the congregation in prayer before opening the time capsule, located in the cornerstone of the former downtown First United Methodist Church that was destroyed by fire March 2. Downing thanked God for all those who had come before who built the church with the faith and assurance that God would stand by them. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Pastor Jim Downing, left, and Rodney Iuchs look at several of the items placed near a Bible that were found in the cornerstone time capsule from the First United Methodist Church downtown location on Sunday evening. Many of the items were removed from the eight-by-eight-inch tin box and placed on the altar for the members to view. The time capsule was placed in the cornerstone in 1888 where it remained until it was removed Saturday morning. Iuchs is one of five generations from his family who have attended services at First United Methodist.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_tsd062816church4.jpgPastor Jim Downing, left, and Rodney Iuchs look at several of the items placed near a Bible that were found in the cornerstone time capsule from the First United Methodist Church downtown location on Sunday evening. Many of the items were removed from the eight-by-eight-inch tin box and placed on the altar for the members to view. The time capsule was placed in the cornerstone in 1888 where it remained until it was removed Saturday morning. Iuchs is one of five generations from his family who have attended services at First United Methodist. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

A young girl leans over the edge of the stage at the Celebration Center Sunday evening to get a closer view of two of the items housed in the cornerstone time capsule of First United Methodist Church downtown location. The downtown church was destroyed by fire in March with the cornerstone being one of the few items recovered. Members of the church removed the hidden time capsule Saturday morning but left it unopened until Sunday night’s prayer service.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_tsd062816church5.jpgA young girl leans over the edge of the stage at the Celebration Center Sunday evening to get a closer view of two of the items housed in the cornerstone time capsule of First United Methodist Church downtown location. The downtown church was destroyed by fire in March with the cornerstone being one of the few items recovered. Members of the church removed the hidden time capsule Saturday morning but left it unopened until Sunday night’s prayer service. Hope Lecchi | Democrat
First United Methodist Church opened capsule Sunday

By Hope Lecchi

[email protected]

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484

Sedalia Democrat

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484

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