I have become all things to all people: Spirituality in Church archives & digital preservation

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Warkentin, Jared
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The records held by church archives have a spiritual value for church communities, in addition to their administrative, legal, and historical value. While spiritual value is by no means absent from other religious archives or even secular archives, my thesis will focus primarily on the spiritual value associated with Christian church archives. The spiritual value of church archives derives from the fact that they are often used to support the spiritual needs and activities of a church community or institution. Without these records of spiritual value, the identity, memory, and spiritual mission of church communities and institutions would be negatively impacted. It is for this reason that church archivists must take into serious consideration the spiritual value of their records, in order that a church community’s spiritual mission can be properly fulfilled. Increasingly in contemporary culture, many of these records are born-digital, meaning that they are being created, stored, and used in digital environments. It has therefore become imperative that archivists implement long-term digital preservation strategies or else risk losing many valuable born-digital records. Church archivists, because of the spiritual value of their records, must take seriously the calling to preserve born digital records, and the spiritual value of those records if they are to continue to support the spiritual mission of the church communities and institutions they are serving. This thesis will show the basis for understanding the spiritual value behind church records, both non-digital and digital, and therefore prove the urgent need for implementing long-term digital preservation strategies in church archives. Examples from various Christian denominations will be considered in this analysis. Some basic digital preservation tools will also be proposed to provide church archivists with a foundation to begin digital preservation in their archives. The thrust behind the thesis is an urgent call for digital archival preservation that supports the continuing spiritual mission of church communities and institutions.
Archives, Church, Spirituality, Digital Preservation