Who cares about history? I think about this question a lot because of my job as director of the Congregational Library in Boston. My association with this venerable Yankee institution, a large collection of things both important and inexplicable, means I’m often invited to churches that are celebrating anniversaries. It’s the part of my job I enjoy the most—bringing words of greeting from long-dead Congregationalists whose memories are stored away in our climate-controlled archive.
I have been around long enough to recognize a congregation’s collective dread when they’re told that a historian is going to give the Sunday sermon, so I do a little advance research and come prepared with a few names and anecdotes from the congregation’s particular story.