Keeping History Alive Jamie Green

JamieGreen

A New Way to Keep Christ Church Alive 

Christ Church is a vibrant congregation living our faith together in the present while planning and working hard to stay vibrant into the future. But we also cherish our heritage, as seen in the historic events we hold for parishioners and our neighbors in Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, and the entire state. We’re also careful to preserve the written history of the parish as seen, for example, by safeguarding our vestry minutes from the 18th century to the present day. We guard our historic objects, such as our 1717 Vinegar Bible, our 1738 charter from King George II, and the orb that once stood atop our steeple that was used as target practice by Revolutionary War soldiers.

Now we’ll be preserving our past in a different way by capturing the memories and insights of some of our parishioners in their own voices. In November, Monmouth University students—guided by Professor Melissa Ziobro—will begin conducting seven audio interviews with eight parishioners as part of a new oral history project. Oral history is a process in which researchers gather and preserve electronically the voices and memories of individuals who participated or observed first-hand events in the past.

For the first group of interview subjects, we wanted to gather the memories of long-time parishioners such as Bob Zeller, with his mellifluous voice, and Ann and Jim Miller, who were instrumental in so many church events such as the 300th anniversary of the parish.  We decided to include second-generation parishioners like Peggy James who not only has contributed so much to our parish herself but whose parents played key roles in the parish before her.  We wanted to include younger people like Robert Maber who grew up in the parish and would provide a different perspective on the church’s present and future.  Bob Kelly was an obvious choice due to his vestry leadership over the years and his status as Parish Historian.  We asked long-time choir member— and a member of the search committee for Mother Lisa–Barbara Carroll to share her memories.  Finally, we knew we had to include Mother Lisa herself to preserve her insights into Christ Church over her 22 years (and counting!) as our beloved rector.