As rural churches go, the Presbyterian Church in Ashland is pretty typical.
The congregation had been dwindling, dropping to 12 regular church-goers. But this past year, there has been a resurgence in faith and hope, and weekly attendance has steadily climbed into the 20s. Significant numbers as small towns go.
What has given them hope? Something they found in the attic.
Minister Marsha Granberry said she was sorting through some boxes in the “Upper Room,” as she calls it, when she came across a cardboard box filled with Bibles. Not just any Bibles; Bibles in multiple languages.
There are 15 Bibles in pristine condition – including those in Slavic, Cakchiquel, Eskimo, Cherokee, Norwegian, Russian, Chinese, Hebrew Psalter, Czechoslovakian and Yiddish.
Most were printed in the 1920s and 1930s, with the exception of the Cherokee version, which shows it may have been printed in 1860.
Granberry thinks the Bibles could be a find.
“These Bibles are in pristine condition; no watermarks, no tears, no underlining,” Granberry said.
After finding the cache of Bibles, Granberry preached a sermon on, “What a treasure and legacy there is in the Upper Room.”
“We so need a bathroom on the main floor of the church so our elderly members don’t have to climb steps,” she said. “And it came down to: Bibles? Bathroom? Bibles? Bathroom?
“What do we choose?”
Granberry said she is hoping the Bibles can be auctioned.
“They were kind enough to let me examine the Bibles,” said Philip McComish, managing partner at Watermark West Rare Books in Wichita. “I don’t do book appraisals, but I found a few of them to be of some interest.
“If an auction house is willing to take them on, it would be best to let the marketplace sort it out.”
And then, maybe, there might be enough money for a new church bathroom, Granberry said.