York City time capsule to be opened Sunday


The first church established in York City will on Sunday unearth a time capsule, a tradition members have upheld since the church was built.

The year 1975 was the last time members of the historic Trinity United Church of Christ pulled the old copper box, soldered shut for safe-keeping, from the hole in which it was buried on the church's property. That was nearly 40 years ago to the day of the celebration this weekend.

Celebration: At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the large, red-brick church at 32 W. Market St. plans to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

The celebration will feature The King's Brass, a well-known praise ensemble that is composed of trumpets, trombones, a tuba, keyboard and percussion and musicians from all over the country.

The Rev. Benjamin Griffin served the church from 1975 to 1987 and will return to give a sermon.

History: "The original church was built in 1741 and the church was established in 1742," said Jeffrey Cogan, the church's organist and choir master.

"We were the first church in York."

The lot on which the original church, then made of logs, was built was donated to the congregation by the family of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.

It was destroyed by an accidental fire in 1797 but was replaced before the turn of the 18th century.

More than 50 years down the line, problems arose between the German-speaking and the English-speaking members of the congregation, forcing them to split.

The German-speaking group got the church property, and the English-speaking part retained the corporate title, the church records and the cemetery.

"The original church building no longer stands," Cogan said, noting that the current building was erected during a historically rich time period. "The sanctuary that stands now was being built during the Civil War and the emancipation of slavery."

In 1865, following the split in congregation, a new church — which in 1957 would become known as Trinity United Church of Christ — was built two lots east of where the original stood.

Capsule: "We're really excited about opening the time capsule and getting to see what was pertinent to the church and York" in 1975, Cogan said.

The time capsule was first buried in 1865 after the church was built, and then opened in the early 1900s, Cogan said. It has been uncovered and its contents revealed regularly since, he said.

Every time the capsule is uncovered, new items are added to the box.

"There could be a variety of different things that had been placed in there," said Daniel Roe, vice president of interpretation for the York County Heritage Trust. "A lot of the time you see more common items, and that's usually paired with something like a newspaper that will identify the time period."

The capsule first buried in the 1800s most likely had things such as kitchen items and quilts. The items revealed this weekend from the '70s will likely include day-to-day objects that people strongly identified with.

"But there's always something a little surprising in these capsules," Roe said. "So it's all very exciting and interesting."

During the summer of 1975, the Bee Gees topped music charts with the hit "Jive Talkin,'" and gas in Pennsylvania only cost 36 cents per gallon.

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com.