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Old South Church Voting Whether To Auction Off Multi-Million Dollar Psalm Book

By Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV Producer
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BOSTON (CBS) – A Boston landmark has an historic decision to make: whether to sell a unique hymn book that’s estimated to be worth millions of dollars.

Either decision will will be a controversial one for members of the Old South Church this weekend.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports

The leaders of the Boylston Street church are asking members to okay the sale of several pieces of extremely valuable church property and pieces of their past, including the Bay Psalm Book, which, as the first book ever published in North America, dating back to the 1600’s, could fetch more than $10 million.

Other items that could be auctioned off include a Colonial era silver collection.

“These items originally were used when they were given in the 1600’s or the 1700’s with the silver. And they’re not used anymore,” said Rev. Nancy Taylor, the senior minister at the historic church.

Rev. Taylor said the millions of dollars the sale could raise could be better used to ensure the future of the church’s work, and could keep the old building preserved.

“We are hoping to re-purpose those amazing gifts from our forebears into continuing mission and ministry,” she said.

However, not everyone in the congregation agrees on selling the items.

“These are elements of our Puritan and Colonial past that help to define what we are as a congregational church,” said Jeff Makholm who serves as Old South’s historian.

He said the financial gain is not worth the loss.

“The idea that you would sell those items of our heritage and break faith with those who gave them to us is disturbing to many members of the congregation,” he said.

It won’t be an easy decision. The congregation will vote on the proposal on Sunday. A two-thirds majority is needed to authorize the sale.

Online: Old South Church in Boston

Online: Look inside the Bay Psalm Book

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