Evangelism Road Trip
To register for Diocesan Convention, Oct. 9-10

St. Mark's is collecting memories

St. Mark's is collecting memories
Historic church needs memorabilia for nascent archives
By AL ZAGOFSKY azagofsk@ptd.net

Although its current church building is a National Historic landmark, the congregation of St. Mark's/St. John's Episcopal Church of Jim Thorpe is much older. The current building is the site of the third church building. The congregation was formed in 1835, when it met in the home of William H. Sayre until land could be acquired and a building could be constructed.

As it approaches its 175th anniversary, the church's history, both the original St. Mark's history and the history of St. John's of East Jim Thorpe who merged with St. Mark's about 30 years ago, is being lost.

Suzy Esrang, a tour guide at St. Mark's/St. John's whose great great grandparents were early members of the church, and who doesn't want the memories to be lost, has begun an archiving project.

"I would like to bring back pictures, memorabilia and documentation about St. Mark's and St. John's Episcopal Church," Esrang said.

She realized the need to preserve old records while clearing out her aunt's basement "I was given pictures and I started to go through it," she said. "Initially, I couldn't identify one. As time has gone by, I've seen pictures like it and I realize it was the dedication of the cornerstone of the church."

Esrang would like people who have memorabilia and documents related to the church to make it available for her to copy. "I don't want to own it," she said. "I want to copy it. I don't want people to believe that I want their stuff. If they are willing to contribute it, that would be fantastic."

Esrang, who started the Carbon County Court System archives for Judge John Lavelle, wants to take advantage of the current archiving technology. Then, you had to take apart books to copy them," she said. "Four years ago, a Mormon group copied our records and put them on a CD."

Esrang plans a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the second church started by William H. Sayre. "They started an archival project eight years ago," she said. "I'm going to meet with them, see how they formatted their information, and bring that information back to work on that here."

As a tour guide who is providing information and answering questions about the church, Esrang wants to be accurate. "One of the things that I found was in the original booklet of the dedication of one of the Tiffany windows that was given in memory of my great great grandparents. It answered a question about who designed that window."

She is currently researching into the origin of the dark blue pigment in one of the stained glass windows.

On the tour, which is given Tuesdays through Saturdays in the summer, she tells the story of the Packer family and shows the Tiffany windows and the Reredos.

The Reredos serves as a sculpted display behind the alter. The Reredos of St. Mark's is a copy of the one built in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle by Queen Victoria. It was the gift of Sarah Packer as a memorial to her husband, Asa Packer. The creamy-yellow limestone was imported from Caen, France and carved on site.

If you have any documents, photographs, mementos, or artifacts related to St. Mark's or St. John's, please contact Suzy Esrang at markjhn1@ptd.net.

[Find Times News story with pics here.]


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