By John Townsend
Church history is important.
The Book of Discipline “strongly recommends” that each church have a church historian “in order to preserve the history of each local church.” Along with preserving the church’s records and artifacts, church historians “have the sacred responsibility” of documenting the work of their church in the world in its time and in its place.
In joining the ranks of church historians, one joins an illustrious company.
After all, the Bible is a history book, a “narrative of God’s acts with the people of Israel and with the people who became the early Christian community.” The apostle Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, a “prototypical work of church history,” can be considered a church historian.
Yes, faithfully recording the narrative of God’s work in the stories of each local church and congregation, and preserving each church’s records and artifacts is an important ministry.
But how to do that well?
The Conference Committees of Lay Servant Ministries and Archives and History have the answer. The Local Church Historians School (LCHS).
LCHS is an intensive, self-paced course with the objective of developing a ministry of memory in every local United Methodist Church. Through this course, offered through the General Commission of Archives and History (GCAH), you will learn from leading Methodist scholars, archivists, and historians, gaining the skills to discover, document, and share the stories of your local church community. The course’s expert teachers and diverse content will challenge you to think in innovative ways about our past – and our future. You and your church will benefit from a renewed historical awareness, exposure to unique stories, and a call to a deeper connection with those around you… both past and present.
You are encouraged to use this opportunity to ensure that the heritage of each of our churches will be celebrated and that each church can receive the full benefit of its own amazing story.
John Townsend serves as Inland District Lay Leader and provides leadership to the Lay Servant Ministries program in the PNW Conference.
I am happy to say that our church, Molalla United Methodist, has a certified church historian! While we need to move forward through history, remembering our past is also critical. Our historian, Carrol Haushalter, does a great job telling our story!