Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Ancient Unitarian silver in the news.
A front-page story in the Boston Globe this morning features one of the UUA's most venerable congregations. The good people at Christie's may see the auction of some of the church's 70-piece silver collection as "wildly exciting from an antique silver perspective," but I think it's more exciting to see the church deliberately look for ways to reach out, welcome new people, and wear its past lightly but well:
The First Church in Salem, which was founded in 1629 and counted victims as well as judges in the Salem witch trials among its early members, is auctioning off 14 silver tankards, flagons, and beakers in hope of raising $1 million to accelerate growth in membership and programming that began in the late 1990s. . . .
This is the second high-profile sale of early American silver by a Massachusetts church in recent years. In 2001, United First Parish Church in Quincy, which was founded in 1639 and is the burial place of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, sold 11 pieces, the value of which at auction had been estimated at around $1 million. The pieces sold for about $3 million.
In that sale, some people, including a former pastor, complained that the church was selling off its heritage; others were unhappy with the sale but felt the church had no choice, given a dwindling membership and a desperate need to fund repairs.
First Church in Salem has no such problems, Barz-Snell said.
"There is no urgency pushing this," he said. "It is the recognition that the church is growing, Salem is growing, and the church is poised, as a progressive Christian church, to become more involved with the broader community."
And, yes, I couldn't help but notice the intradenominational compare-and-contrast. Perhaps a Quincy commenter can give us an update.
("Salem church sets storied silver work on auction block," Charles A. Radin, Boston Globe 12.19.06, reg req'd)
Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 19 December 2006 at 7:39 AM