Some of the most remarkable and beautiful architecture in our neighborhood are the buildings of worship. These buildings in many ways not only define our neighborhood, but also give them and the residents character. In many cases, their steeples dominate the landscape as they soar toward the heavens.
Built in a different era and having to adapt to the needs of the 21st century, the congregations are always struggling to hold onto the past while at the same time looking forward. In many cases, sometimes what is inside the buildings can often be described as a treasure trove.
The recent decision of the congregation of the Old South Church to sell one of the two copies of perhaps the rarest book that was first printed in America is a case in point. The book, the Book of Psalms, was printed in America in 1630 and there are only 11 copies remaining. Most are in museums and the two copies that the Old South Church owns are being stored at the Boston Public Library. A sale of one of these books is estimated to bring between $10 million to $20 million.
This money can be used to not only fix the physical structure of the Church, but also to help continue its ministry of outreach to a society that has changed dramatically. We support the decision of the congregation that overwhelmingly voted to sell this asset to continue to make their church a vibrant and integral part of the Boston community. While selling any asset is usually unthinkable under any circumstance, perhaps the timing of the vote on the first Sunday of Advent could be a teaching moment. As members of faith, we believe that our role in a community is to help those less fortunate regardless of the cost. The congregation of the Old South Church has shown us as we begin to prepare for Christmas that helping and caring is what a community does rather than hold onto a monetary object.