1942 time capsule discovered at Richmond church

1942 time capsule discovered at Richmond church
St Luke's Pastor Ofa Uepi (left) holds the time capsule and its artifacts alongside church Senior Staff Member Cynthia Kerns.

By Mike Kinney

The Sunday Morning edition of the Record Herald on Feb. 1, 1942 featured the all-caps headline: “CORNER STONE LAYING AT 3 O’CLOCK.” The article’s sub-head added: “Bishop Baker-Speaker today at ceremonies of Methodist Church.”

The story was about the corner stone that was laid 76 years ago at the church presently known as St. Luke’s United Methodist Church at 3200 Barrett Ave.

And because of a surprise find at the church last week, that old news article, and other long-forgotten artifacts dating back to the beginnings of the Richmond church, have been uncovered.

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church at 3200 Barrett Ave.

On Thursday, May 10, when I visited the church, I was in the Pastor’s office when I spotted an unassuming metal box in a the cubby hole of a dusty book shelf. It was a simple copper box that was welded shut. Out of curiosity, I pointed it out to Cynthia Kerns, a senior staff member at St. Luke’s. She was amazed.

“It’s the copper box, it’s the time capsule!” she said.

After the corner stone was laid 76 years ago, Bishop Baker had wanted to place the time capsule behind it. See the photo below. It’s a photo showing Bishop Baker holding the copper box on the day the corner stone was laid (my grandfather Forest Martin is in that picture).

Apparently, the time capsule “never made it behind the church corner stone,” said Kerns. Meanwhile, it remained hidden in plain sight for 76 years.

We immediately had a welder open it for us.

Artifacts found in the copper box were a Holy Bible (1941), a book entitled-Discipline of the Methodist Church (1940) and the Journal- 3rd Session, California Annual Conference of the Methodist Church. Also, there were Richmond Independent newspaper clippings and photo images from the ground breaking for the corner stone.

The church cornerstone

“The importance of the time capsule is showing that history is relevant to life and history is a part of the United Methodist Church theology,” said St Luke’s Pastor Ofa Uepi.

Visiting Pastor Mark Zier added, “It is a living testimony of God’s people in the church’s neighborhood.”