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New Archives and History Commission Begins its Work

It has been two years since the former West Ohio Conference Archives and History Commission parceled some of its work out to individual members to continue until the group could form again, and this fall a new Archives and History Commission is taking up its tasks. The eight-member group, now related to the Conference Board of Trustees, will be chaired by the Rev. Tom Slack, and includes as ex-officio members Conference Historian Sarah Brooks Blair and Conference Archivist Carol Holliger. The Commission has an interest in your church, and encourages your church to have an interest in what the Commission can do to help your congregation be known and remembered.

When former A&H Commission chairperson Jim Barbee resigned in 2015, the West Ohio Conference was working on a new structure that would include significant changes for the Commission on Archives and History. Several Commission members took on parts of what the Commission had done so that its work could continue while new arrangements were finalized.

The 2016 Annual Conference session voted the new structure into existence. It created an eight-member Commission related to the Conference Board of Trustees with additional places for a Conference Archivist and a Conference Historian. The Book of Discipline gives the Commission on Archives and History a broad range of tasks and obligations, including:

  • Helping churches preserve records, compile histories, and celebrate their heritage - and if you'd like to know what to keep (and for how long) and what not to keep to accomplish that, click here;
  • Collecting, preserving, and making accessible the records of conference agencies;
  • Permanently and safely keeping historical records of closed churches;
  • Maintaining a fire-safe historical and archival depository; and
  • Nominating historical structures and sites and heritage landmarks.

The West Ohio Commission on Archives and History is related to the United Methodist Historical Society of Ohio, the North Central Jurisdiction Commission on Archives and History, and the General Commission on Archives and History.
Your church will have an opportunity to begin or update its historical record as a part of the annual reporting process.  The church history form is now available online, and can be accessed and completed at any time by your designated church historian or church data administrator.  The benefit to completing the church history form online is that it just needs to be updated annually; previous historical information that has been reported is preserved, and past information can be easily accessed.

The Commission on Archives and History will offer regular updates on its initiatives as we look forward to the summer of 2018, when a national gathering in Dayton will observe the 50th anniversary of the creation of The United Methodist Church. Do you have a question or some information to share? E-mail westohioarchives [at] wocumc.org and we'll get the conversation underway.