Evadoc newsletter 11-2, Summer 2021
At Your Service!
Open Monuments Day & Project Diverse Religious Heritage in Flanders
Interns Evangelical Theological Faculty, Leuven
Operation Mobilisatie International
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Fortunately, many Covid-19 measures will have been lifted or relaxed by the time this newsletter is published. Like everyone else, we also are looking forward to full normalization of society, to offer our services as before. Collecting and preserving archives and publications on the Protestant and Anglican presence in our society and making finding aids is an important activity. But we do much more! Evadoc also develops heritage services tailored to Protestant and related religious communities. The results of ‘Hemelsbreed. Diverse Religious Heritage in Flanders,’ confirmed our assessment of the most pressing heritage needs in Protestant and Anglican communities. Finally, we are also looking forward to coming to you with workshops and training sessions. We are happy to share our knowledge and expertise about records creation, records management challenges, and record-keeping issues in the context of the local church or an organization. Of course, other aspects of heritage management can also be addressed. Please get in touch with the Evadoc consultant to discuss the details. As you may know, we conduct our services according to the modalities of a protocol of cooperation with KADOC-KU Leuven.
In the previous newsletter, we wrote extensively about the project ‘Hemelsbreed. Diverse religious heritage in Flanders.’ Both the report and the videos are still available online. The follow-up phases of this unique project have been integrated into the regular activities of the participating organizations. Within the framework of KADOC-KU Leuven, the Evadoc consultant will take the lead for the Protestant and Anglican communities. On Heritage Day, Sunday, September 12, 2021, in every province, a local religious community presents its religious heritage to a broader audience. This year, the theme of the Open Monument Day is ‘heritage and inclusion.’ The Evangelical Church De Rots in Wondelgem and the United Protestant Church in Belgium (VPKB/EPUB) in Horebeke, represent the Protestant churches. The former is a classic example of the conversion of a building into a church. In Horebeke, among other things, the church from 1795 and the only Protestant cemetery in Belgium, dating from 1824, can be visited.
You can visit Anglican heritage in St. Boniface in Antwerp. The current monumental church building was built between 1906 and 1910. But the Anglican presence in this city goes back much further.
The complete program of Open Monuments Day is available here from Monday, August 2, 2021. That leaves you with plenty of time to put together your program for September 12.
This spring, two students from the Evangelical Theological Faculty, Leuven (ETF), did an internship at Evadoc. Thomas Exalto researched the heritage of migrant churches in Mechelen and Leuven. Tom van Steenis processed archives and got acquainted with why record and archives management is essential for the local church.
In the ETF newsletter, Thomas Exalto wrote about his internship:
“Between February and April, I did a research internship at Evadoc. This is an Archives and Documentation Center for Protestant and Evangelical Heritage. My internship focused on mapping the heritage and heritage needs of religious migrant communities in Mechelen and Leuven. During my internship, I first studied the theory of religious heritage, and then I engaged in field research. For the field research, I contacted and visited various church communities. I used a questionnaire intending to map their heritage and heritage needs. Eventually, I included the data in an article. I found out that churches need to become more aware of their religious heritage and heritage needs. Often they have such needs but are unaware of them. It was enriching to bridge the gap in this internship between practice and the skills I acquired during my studies. I also found it inspiring to get acquainted with various international church traditions.”
As part of his internship, Tom van Steenis wrote an article about the relevance of archives and archiving for local churches. With permission, I gladly share some excerpts.
“When I started my studies at the Evangelical Theological Faculty of Leuven in 2018, we as students were given a tour of EVADOC, the Protestant-Evangelical Archives and Documentation Centre. That’s where I was first introduced to archives. At that time, it didn’t bother me much. I wasn’t sure what one could do with these old documents. A library of books was more appealing. Archives also seemed so inaccessible, hidden in repositories. It is not like recognizing a book on the shelf by its cover. Archive documents are all hidden in similar boxes and folders. You have to search well. However, as most treasures are hidden, one has to dig to discover a treasure chest. When you find such a treasure, you immediately realize you have to cherish it. During my internship, I have experienced that many treasures are hidden in these folders and boxes that one would miss without repositories.”
Tom gives three arguments why the preservation of archives and other heritage is important.
a) Practical or administrative argument.
“Without an archive, many organizations would be less functional and effective. For example, with good archives management, churches can easily trace their roots, look up previous decisions, what was discussed at prior meetings, how money was spent, et cetera.”
Archives are an important tool to present “an objective, neutral and honest view of history.” Van Steenis notes that “archives are not wide open doors to the past, but only small cracks. It only gives a glimpse of the past.” Using a concrete example, he then demonstrates that proper and thorough research of archival sources can lead to adjusting certain perceptions.
“Some evangelicals, disapproving ordination of women, are often convinced they are simply in line with their tradition. However, archives demonstrate that this is not true. In the past, evangelical women have been active in ministry, including preaching.”
Furthermore, archives are a gold mine to “compile a biography or determine the general opinion on certain matters and how people acted on specific circumstances. Finally, archival research can provide context and background of certain decisions.”
According to Tom, “This perspective is best understood by most people.” At least, that was the case for me. In Europe, Christianity is in decline. In many churches, membership is dropping. But ever since Christianity emerged, members have passed on their traditions, beliefs, and rituals to the next generations. This is often intangible heritage, but also – and perhaps especially – tangible heritage is precious. It gives context to the intangible. Therefore, archives are an important means by which the Christian faith and its interpretation can be passed on to future generations.
Van Steenis: heritage expresses and substantiates how the Christian faith was experienced. Evangelical churches study their predecessors and reflect on them. An example: I learned a lot about the evangelical movement in Europe through the archives of the European Evangelical Alliance. About the events they organized, the relations with other national and international organizations, their opinion on the ordination of women, et cetera .”
And so, today’s Christians can connect themselves to previous generations. Each generation faces the challenge of presenting Christianity in a new and contemporary ‘language.’ For example, one can learn from the European Evangelical Alliance not only which tools and methods were used for evangelism but also gain insight into which ones were effective and how evangelism can be improved.”
Van Steenis concludes: “Christian heritage not only provides an identity but also gives expression and substance to the faith of its adherents. It reflects the convictions and traditions of the past. Therefore, realizing that today’s generation will become ‘the past of the future,’ is an important step towards good heritage management and practices by present-day churches. And so, they too will make an important contribution to pass their story to future generations.”
In 2019 we already announced that the worldwide archives of Operation Mobilization would be deposited at Evadoc. In recent months, the first two parts have arrived in Leuven. The OM USA archives crossed the ocean on a container ship. In the photo, the ship sails up the mouth of the Western Scheldt to eventually dock in Antwerp.
The second shipment was from OM Eastern Europe and arrived overland. It covers both the period before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain. It goes without saying that we will keep you informed of further developments.
In addition to the archives of OM International, we also received additions to the archives of Jean-Claude Thienpont, Jean Vanhees, and Herman Spaargaren.
The following items have been added to our library:
Monica Kendall, Lies and the Brontës. This book is partly based on research in the parish archives of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Brussels, which has been put in the care of Evadoc for safekeeping.
Luc Schmidt donated received several hymnals that have been used in the meetings of the Brethren assemblies.
The Faculty of Protestant Theology and the Synodal Council of the United Protestant Church in Belgium gave us multiple volumes of the following periodicals from duplicates in the Boudin-Willems Archives:
- De Stem van de Protestantse Kerk in België
- Het Christelijk Volksblad
- De Blijde Booschap voor Nederland (Silo)
- Le Chrétien Belge
Le Glaneur Missionnaire
- Paix et Liberté
We conclude the section with the titles of several digital newsletters that also have been added to our collection:
- Hulp aan Haïti
- Mercy Ships
- Christian Climate Action Belgium
From time to time, we post additional news items on our website.
Recently we posted the article “For example, a blog post appeared a while back under the title “Geef Onze Hoop terug hoop” [translated: Give Our Hope Back Hope.]
For those who missed that article, I will include this item slightly adapted in this newsletter.
From 1925 to 1963, the Belgian Evangelical Mission (BEM), now Vianova, published the Dutch-language magazine Onze Hoop and its French counterpart Notre Espérance. These magazines are a unique source documenting Belgium’s Protestant and Evangelical landscape broadening after the First World War. They provide insight into the developments at both local and national level, international contacts, and the theological convictions of the BEM, founded by Americans.
Onze Hoop and Notre Espérance are, however, highly endangered. Especially during the interwar period, the quality of the paper on which they were printed is very poor. Even under the optimal conditions in which they are stored at KADOC, the natural decay of the material is high. It becomes brittle, and any manipulation leads to irreversible damage. To preserve these magazines for the future and provide permanent access on the internet, digitizing is a must.
However, digitization costs money, and our budget is limited. We are therefore calling on you to finance the digitization of these unique journals. Give Onze Hoop / Notre Espérance back hope.
The cost of digitization: 2000 euros.
Due to the cooperation protocol between Evadoc and KADOC, donations of € 40 or more are tax-deductible in Belgium. Please transfer your gift to the following account BE45 7340 1941 7789 of KADOC-KU Leuven and use 400/0020/43911 as the structured reference code.
Curious about the standings?
This crowdfunding page of KADOC-KU Leuven informs you about how much has already been donated for this project. The standings are updated weekly. When this newsletter was published, the amount was € 180. Of course, we are grateful for that, but this is not yet enough. That’s why we need your valued financial support to achieve our goal.
For more information, please get in touch with Aaldert Prins.
To realize its activities, EVADOC cooperates intensively with KADOC. Documentation and Research Center for Religion, Culture, and Society of the KU Leuven. Evadoc and KADOC: gateway to the Protestant and Evangelical heritage.
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