News & Announcements

Cleaning Out Central Office

Written by Herb Ziegler

Over a long weekend in February, a crew of Swedenborgians assumed the task of sorting through files and various collected items that convention had stored in the basement of Swedenborg Chapel in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The collection of papers and other items has been piling up for many years and only occasionally accessed for a variety of reasons. It was time to do a thorough review and reduce the mass of unnecessary paper. Led by convention president Jane Siebert and president-elect and dean of CSS, Jim Lawrence, with the help of convention treasurer, Jennifer Lindsay, account manager Gina Peracchi, convention vice president, Kurt Fekete, chair of the Library and Documents Committee, Nancy Little and her church history enthusiast husband Trevor, and myself—the team went to work.

Central Office clean out team trapped in the Cambridge Cage: (Left to right) Gina Peracchi, Herb Ziegler, Nancy Little, Jennifer Lindsay, Trevor, and Jim Lawrence.

Jennifer and Gina dug into the financial records. With a keen understanding of the legal requirements for financial record keeping, for three days they went through records and produced many bags of shredded documents for disposal.

In addition to his skills and knowledge as an academic, Jim is a treasure trove of knowledge of both Swedenborgianism and the history of the Swedenborgian Church of North America, as well as familiarity with many of the people involved in governance leadership and participation in the church in the past and the present. Therefore, he became the go-to person for checking on whether documents reviewed by the rest of us should be kept or discarded and, if kept, what their disposition should be. So, we began sorting through numerous boxes that have been in storage and retrieved from a remote storage facility, looking at each document. Much of it had no historical value and was of no use to future researchers, and we disposed of it. And what we kept we reorganized into better labeled folders and placed them in file drawers and file boxes, labeled appropriately.

On top of files, there was quite a bit of office equipment and supplies to be dealt with. Central Office and its employees are now remote. This saves on rent and allows staff to be based anywhere—not just in the Boston area. For some reason, we had an excessive amount of office supplies. These items, along with the office furniture and fixtures, are being distributed to people who need them. 

 Framed piece of wallpaper was found with the following inscription on the back: “This piece of wallpaper came from the house in Stockholm in which Emanuel Swedenborg was born in 1688.” 

The last type of things we came across were items of historical, sentimental, or personal value for Swedenborgians. These were collected and set aside for an auction to be held at the annual convention in June in California. Jane had boxed prizes, small stones that she had hand painted for the person who found the most surprising thing and the person who found the oldest thing. Yours truly came across a small, framed image that looked like an old print of some sort. Turning it over, there was documentation that it was a piece of wallpaper from Swedenborg’s home in Stockholm. It stated that the wallpaper had been produced in 1654. I won the prize for the oldest item! It will be among the variety of items on auction at the annual convention in June. 

Read the full issue of the March 2022 Messenger

Meet Herb Ziegler

Herb Ziegler resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and serves on the General Council. He is the former editor of the Messenger.