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First Spiritual Temple

The Opening of a Time Capsule
September 22, 1985

Our Church was founded on June 28, 1883. The original Church building, also known as the First Spiritual Temple, was dedicated and consecrated, during a three-day celebration, in September, 1885.

Even though our Church is now in Brookline, one town over from Boston, the spirit of our founder and of our Church remains deeply etched within every block of sandstone and granite used to construct that grand old building. She remains a most honorable part of our 114 year history.

Shortly after the sale of the original building, in 1975, it was declared an historical site and has become an icon in Boston's Back Bay area.

On September 22, 1985, one-hundred years after the Church building was dedicated, the current owners of the property held a celebration, commemorating her 100th birthday.

(Story continues below images)

Preparing to Remove Cornerstone: The masons have prepared to remove the cornerstone from the building. Around this rejected stone, inscribed with the Alpha and Omega, was built the original First Spiritual Temple.

Removing the Cornerstone: The masons remove the cornerstone to reveal the time capsule which our Church records indicate lay nestled within the stone.

The Time Capsule: The sponsors of the celebration felt it would be appropriate to have the Church Pastors carry the time capsule from the cornerstone to the platform. Here, Rev. Simeon and Rev. Stephen carry the copper time capsule. It was, truly, an exciting event for both of them and for the Church membership.

The Speeches: Seated at the platform, in front of the building, were: Mrs. Flynn, wife of the Mayor; Rev. Simeon; Rev. Stephen; Historian for Back Bay Historical Society; Boston's Mayor Raymond Flynn.

Opening the Time Capsule: Boston's Mayor, Raymond Flynn, and his wife opening the time capsule.

The Contents: Mayor Flynn and his wife look through the contents of the time capsule. Rev. Stephen and Rev. Simeon look on, wondering if the vial of oil will be unearthed.

Newspaper From 1884: Mayor Flynn looking through a local Spiritualist newspaper which had been placed within the time capsule.

Look Everyone: The real "gem" of the time capsule. After all the wondering and imagining what that vial of oil looked like, it comes to the light of day once again. Placed within the time capsule by our founder, Marcellus Ayer, the next set of earthly hands to touch it were those of the Pastors, 100 years later.

It's There!: Eureka! It's here! We have it! The feeling of exhilaration felt by the Pastors, as the vial of baptismal oil reached their hands, is hard to express. The ancient past, having touched the more recent past, now embraces the present. Truly, for that one moment, time stood still and three ages of our history came together.

On Display: The contents of the time capsule were displayed within a glass case on Newbury Street, in front of the old Temple building. During the afternoon and early evening hours, hundreds of people walked by and looked into the display case.

On Display: In addition to the vial of oil, which was wrapped in cloth, the contents of the time capsule included: letters from our founder; current issues of various local newspapers, Spiritualist and non-Spiritualist alike; fliers and leaflets; copies of the original Church bulletin, known as The Temple Messenger; written transcripts of Spirit communications concerning the mission and future of the First Spiritual Temple; coins; and other memorabilia.

Church Members Observe: Deborah Burke Henderson and Sarah J. Henderson, observe the contents of the time capsule within the display case.

The New Time Capsule: Here, we see the new time capsule which was to be placed within the cornerstone. The Church was invited to include an envelope within this new capsule, which is planned to be opened, again, in September, 2085, on the 200th anniversary of the building. Included within the Church's envelope are: current day memorabilia; newsletters; fliers; a history of the Church from 1885 to 1985; letters from the members and Pastors of the Church to the Church membership of 2085.

To Church Members, 2085: Rev. Simeon places the Church's folder into the new time capsule. You can tell how times have changed. The old time capsule was made of copper, while the new one is made of plastic.

Cornerstone Ready to Receive: The cornerstone standing ready to receive the new time capsule. If all goes as planned, this stone will be removed, once again, in September, 2085. We will be there, once again, in Spirit.

Placing the New Time Capsule: Then Boston Mayor, Raymond Flynn, places the new time capsule back into the cornerstone.

The Interview: Rev. Stephen is being interviewed by one of the many television news reporters covering this historic event; historic for Boston and especially historic for our Church. Rev. Stephen is the Church historian, and he is working on an official history of the First Spiritual Temple and the Boston Temple.


Then Boston Mayor, Raymond Flynn, various Boston historians, and the Pastors and members of the Church were invited to attend this celebration. It was decided that the building's cornerstone -- located at the corner of Exeter and Newbury Streets and inscribed with the Alpha and Omega, signifying the beginning and the end -- would be removed and a time capsule, which, according to our Church records, had been placed within the cornerstone, would be opened. A new time capsule would, then, be placed therein; this one to be opened in September, 2085.

With bated breath, we anticipated the day's arrival. Our Church records indicate that the cornerstone, laid at a ceremony on April 9, 1884:

"According to the Ancient Egyptian Rites, was annointed with oil, sent from an Egyptian society for this purpose, said oil being a portion of that found in the Hall of Ramses III in the recent excavations in the Temple of Karnak, in which a lamp was found burning which is believed to have been burning incessantly for all these ages, being fed from a never failing reservoir of oil just beyond the ruins."

Spirit had previously told our founder that this was the fifth Temple which he had built, over time, for religious and spiritual purposes; the most recent being in Egypt.

Would that precious oil be there?

Finally, the day arrived and the ceremony was held in front of the old Temple building, with hundreds of people attending.

We hope you will take an opportunity and browse through these pictures, that you might share with us that very special day in our history, when our past met up with the present, through a little vial of oil, sealed within a copper box, all hidden for 100 years behind a cornerstone.

 

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First Spiritual Temple
The Ayer Institute
16 Monmouth Street, Brookline, MA, 02446-5605 USA
Telephone 617 566-7639
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