In 1955, the North Carolina Synod’s Committee on Parish Education identified the importance of having the best and most up-to-date teaching tools available for congregational leaders. What better way to share those tools across the synod than to open a library?
Thus, the North Carolina Synod Film Library was born. Just a few years later the film library was definitely filling a need for ELCA congregations. In 1957 the synod noted in its proceedings, “We are continuing to add to the library and will build it up as fast as we can. The demands are becoming greater each year.” While the congregational need was evident, other needs such as funding, space and staffing quickly arose.
Charles S. Heilig, the synod’s treasurer at the time, was a great supporter of the Film Library. Upon his retirement in 1976, he presented a check to the Synod Assembly for the expansion of the library space in the synod office. He continued to support the library by establishing a Heilig Fund to purchase “current media resources.” Additionally, after his death in 1983, the synod’s Executive Board further honored Charles by adding an additional $30,000 to the fund.
Resource requests were originally handled by the secretary of the synod office in addition to all her other duties. The first director of the library was hired in 1976. A new synod office was built in 1991 and the center moved into a spacious new location in the middle of the building, also taking a new name: Heilig Resource Center. Popular 16mm films from 1955 were moved to make room for videos. A technological milestone came in 1999 when the center’s searchable catalog went online with over 5,000 resources.
Catherine Fink has been director since 1989 and feels blessed to be a part of this amazing, long-standing ministry of the North Carolina Synod. Changes have come and gone — and will continue to come — but the original need identified by the synod’s Committee on Parish Education is still relevant. The Heilig Resource Center, now in its 57th year, will continue to share the best and most up-to-date tools — whatever shape those tools might take — for congregational leaders.
ELCA resource centers serve the members and staff of local congregations and agencies by providing access to ELCA-produced curricula and other print and video materials consistent with Lutheran theology, by providing links to people and organizations and by making locally produced resources available to others. Each resource center is supported by the synod or region in which it resides as well as congregations, and the network as a whole is supported by the ELCA and Augsburg Fortress Publishers. You can search online to find a resource center in your area.