Resource will aid visitors to General Assembly next year
August 16, 2017
A map can be an essential tool for anyone embarking on a road trip.
Now a different kind of map — — is available for those headed to St. Louis to attend the 223rd General Assembly from June 16–23, 2018. The new online map, developed by staff in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Office of the General Assembly, gives locations and information about 13 historic churches and other sites in the St. Louis area.
On the map, the sites are flagged by numbered red signpost icons. You may click on a signpost or one of the photos below the map to read a short blurb about the history of the site and zoom in on the map for more exact street locations.
The sites include Blackburn College, founded in 1837 by pioneering Presbyterian pastor Gideon Blackburn, and the monument and gravesite of Elijah P. Lovejoy, a Presbyterian minister whose crusade against slavery cost him his life. Also featured are historic churches, including Bonhomme Presbyterian Church, the second oldest congregation west of the Mississippi River.
“I like the idea of the map as an entry point for visitors,” said Jennifer Barr, reference archivist for the Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS), one of the map developers. She compiled the images and historical information about the featured sites. She also plotted the latitude and longitude coordinates of each site for placement on the map.
“It’s a very useful tool,” she said, noting that the map can be accessed on computers, tablets and mobile phones.
Vicente Guna Serrano, manager of technologies in the Office of the General Assembly, built the online platform for the map with input from David Staniunas, records archivist for PHS.
Guna described the resulting resource as a “story map,” which he said is “an interactive way to tell a story” using mapping technology. The story map platform can incorporate text, maps, photos and multimedia and allows users to reference other sources through links.
The 13 sites on the St. Louis map are among the 445 sites listed in the American Presbyterian and Reformed Historic Sites Registry on the PHS website.
Barr said PHS began compiling the registry in 1973, inviting Presbyterians across the country to send applications for churches or other historic sites. The applications were assessed by a committee of historians. Those that were considered to be of greatest historic significance to the larger church received a plaque and were listed in the registry.
PHS staff wrote a history of each site for publication in the Journal of Presbyterian History. The final histories will be published in the winter 2017 issue, Barr said.
The registry project continued until 2003, but is no longer accepting applications. However, Barr said, PHS is looking for other ways to highlight local church history. Story map technology may be the key.
The St. Louis map is “a trial run,” Barr said. “We’re hoping to be able to use this tool for the entire collection of 445 sites.” PHS staff are discussing how “to make this expandable” — that is, how to develop a system for gathering and managing information about sites that are not on the registry.
Barr envisions a story map showing Presbyterian historic sites across the entire United States. PHS data could also be used to develop smaller maps for host cities of future General Assemblies and other events.
In every part of the country, local Presbyterians are aware of people, places and events of historic significance to the church, Barr said. “We want to help congregations tell their stories.”
Eva Stimson, Office of General Assembly Communications
Today’s Focus: Presbyterian historic sites in the St. Louis area
Let us join in prayer for:
Bonhomme Presbyterian Church Pastoral Staff
Don Everts, associate pastor
Tom Hobson, assistant pastor
AmyRuth Bartlett, minister of community
Chris Macky, associate pastor of church planting and missions
Lynn Packwood, minister of music and pastoral care
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Loving God, thank you for giving us more opportunities to serve better and love more genuinely. Amen.