billy graham center archives
2007 annual report

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A collection of fragments: the posters from a variety of times, ministries, and countries that made up the Archives 2007 online exhibit, A Sign Unto You.

After the miracles when Jesus fed the crowds of five thousand and four thousand, there were an abundance of fragments left over and the disciples gathered them up in baskets. The Bible does not say what happened to these fragments. Surely they were not wasted, but instead put to a good use. Archivists, too, in their way deal with remnants, that is to say documents - the letters, photos, recordings and much else that people create individually or in groups. Like the baskets full of bread and fish, archival documents testify both to the physical events of the past and their deeper meaning. They are some of the links that tie the past generations to the present and future.

The BGC Archives is collecting materials that tell a small part of the story of Christian witness - people testifying to others about the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is a story of spiritual goods in earthen vessels, eternal salvation announced through fallen people, inept as well as inspiring, bad as well as good, struggling as well as triumphant. Our collections cannot hope to convey the whole story, since all of people’s lives, not to mention the movements of God, are not recorded on bits of paper, tape, film and electrons. Only a small fraction of what is so recorded is ever preserved. And anyway, the main way that the human past is preserved in the human present is not by artifacts but by the continued unfolding of the impact of past actions and words on people today and, through them, people tomorrow. But archives are also useful. At the BGC Archives we intend to be useful servants to the church and the community at large. We seek to preserve what is true and significant, not what is comfortable, a real reflection of what happened. This, of course, involves selection that is shaped by a commitment to the value of truth and a faith in God's working through humanity.

The themes that tie together our fragmented world (including our archives of remnants) lead to and from Jesus the Anointed One. The disciples had a hard time understanding Jesus' miracles. As we read in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus asked them how many baskets of fragments were left over, and they told Him. He asked, "How is it you do not understand?" The pattern of our fragments in the Archives is also not always clear and can be part of many different stories. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, now we see as through a glass darkly and understand only in part. But we archivists gather our baskets of remnants in the belief that they can still be means of enlightenment and grace to teach, encourage and warn.

In that spirit we offer this report on our work in 2007 in the following pages. Below follow a few highlights with links to further information in other parts of the 2007 report on our Web site.

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