Storytellers Wanted!

Storytellers Wanted!

Dec 22, 2016

Council on History
Rev. Nicholas J. Kersten
Director of Education and History


“Let me tell you what I wish I’d known when I was young and dreamed of glory: you have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.”

— George Washington to Alexander Hamilton

in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton.”

For most of my tenure doing historic work among Seventh Day Baptists, I have tried to frame my work publicly as both a ministry of memory and of storytelling. This has been very helpful for me, because as words increase, sometimes the real heart of a thing can be obscured. I know this from personal experience as someone who has been known to “increase words” from time to time!

When most people think about history, they think about dusty books and dusty people recounting names and dates in a droll monotone voice. But this stereotype isn’t always true! And it’s especially untrue when the person with the grasp of history isn’t just recounting facts, but telling compelling stories. Seventh Day Baptists have been blessed for generations with gifted storytellers, and the stories have become part of what we are as a people. We don’t always get to choose who tells our stories, but there might be a choice for some of our storytellers in the coming months!

Since its inception in 1844, the Sabbath Recorder has been a place where the stories of Seventh Day Baptists and our congregations have been told. One of the ways that this was accomplished was through original history writing which was published in the pages of the publication. Local church histories, family histories and important stories have routinely been told from these pages. These old stories are frequently referenced in our historical research here in Janesville and invaluable resources.

For this reason, we are recruiting history writers to submit short or longer form pieces which may be selected for publication on this page in the Sabbath Recorder each month. We are hoping that interested historians will tell the stories of important people or churches in a way that will benefit all of us, as well as documenting history for future generations which may not be documented elsewhere. Do you have a history story to tell which could benefit us to hear? This is your chance!

The stories could be about historical events from last week or the last century, but they need to clearly describe a historical occurrence, and with the important facts and dates recorded. First person retellings are acceptable also, though we may not publish first person pieces which disparage others or other congregations! On a related note, submission of a piece does not guarantee publication.

In order for a piece to be published in our monthly column, it needs to be 650 words or less, and if photographs (which are encouraged) are included, the word count needs to be less! Longer stories will be accepted, but very long pieces are unlikely to be published because it would stretch out the story for multiple months.

Good stories have a clear beginning, middle and end! Please be sure that your story is clear, and that you have sufficiently limited your subject matter so that it can be told in the span of a month or two. The most compelling stories paint clear pictures of a situation and the participants in it, and because we believe that God is at work in us and among us, we would hope to see some indication of how you think God has worked in a particular situation or group in your church.

If you have a story you wish to submit, or if you have questions about submitting your story you can contact me here at the SDB Center, or you can email me at

I look forward to hearing what God has done in your churches, and to see your stories told in this space in the coming months!

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