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Cornerstone gives Tennessee church destroyed in tornado hope

Cornerstone box uncovered at Dresden United First Methodist Church
Discovery Park of America
Cornerstone box uncovered at Dresden United First Methodist Church

A cornerstone was found in the rubble of First United Methodist Church in Dresden, Tennessee, after the church was demolished during December’s deadly tornado outbreak.

The copper cornerstone, sealed since it was placed in a lower level of the church in 1923, will be opened tomorrow at Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tennessee.

Discovery Park of America director of exhibits and collections Jennifer Wildes hopes the box contains church records since the church lost all of theirs in the tornado.

United Methodist Church Trustee Wayne McCrite along with other Trustee members reached out to several museums in the area. The trustees eventually contacted Discovery Park America.

Wayne says the church knew about the box before the church was demolished and finding it gave the church a sense of hope.

“The lord works in mysterious ways,” says McCrite. “Our church was overwhelmed with the fact that we had found this cornerstone box that we believed might be there. It gave us hope for the future.”

That hope may have some facts to back it up.

Wildes, along with her team, found a book written by a church member in the 1980s with transcribed news articles from 1923. The cornerstone dedication was also transcribed into the book. The book also indicated that the items inside the cornerstone are all paper documents.

According to the book, some of the documents in the box may include a list of members of the church before 1923, a copy of the church newspaper, a copy of the local Dresden paper and a list of church records from 1883-1923. She says she hopes there are records because First United Methodist lost all of its records from the tornadoes.

This copper box, Wildes added, should have worked as an effective time capsule of sorts. She said the casing serves as an anti-mold container. The worst case scenario would be if the items contained moisture and if there’s documents inside that have moisture a more extensive procedure could be used to preserve them.

“It's our job to try to get these items as dry as possible so that the mold and moisture doesn’t set in,” Wildes says. “That's where we will have a lot of work ahead of us.”

The unveiling will be closed to the public and will take a few hours to complete. Wilde says Discovery Park of America hopes to have the items of the box exhibited once they are properly treated and repaired.

Mason Galemore is a Murray State student studying journalism. He was the editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper. Since then has explored different publication avenues such as broadcasting. He hopes to travel as a journalist documenting conflict zones and different cultures. He remembers watching the Arab Spring in 2011 via the news when he was a kid, which dawned in a new age of journalism grounded in social media. His favorite hobbies are hiking, photography, reading, writing and playing with his Australian Shepard, Izzy. He is originally from Charleston, Missouri.
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