Archives & History Reports (1980-89)

1989 Report to Annual Conference

     "The Past is Prologue" inscribed on the facade of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. We are a people concerned foremost with the happenings of the present while at the same time keeping a wary eye towards the uncertainties of tomorrow. Yet, how can we fully appreciate today and hope to plan for tomorrow without a knowledge of those events and personalities which have shaped us as a society?

     The "People Called Methodists" enjoy one of the richest heritages of any faith. We are witnessing today the marrying of that faith with the technology of the times, a union which will undoubtedly enhance United Methodism's endeavors to inform the world of God's boundless grace. However, we as a faith must never lose sight of that journey that has taken us from a saddlebag ministry to the advanced technology of a satellite ministry.

     The Commission on Archives and History recognizes the importance of keeping alive the history and heritage of our faith. In order for this task to be accomplished, those records from which this heritage can be reconstructed must be preserved for succeeding generations of United Methodists. This will be our credo for 1989-90: "Keep alive our past so that the spirit of the faith may live in the future."

     The Commission was presented a detailed report at the Convocation of Boards in January outlining the critical records management needs of the Louisiana Annual Conference It is imperative that those records which serve as a link to our past be preserved as written, oral and visual testimonies to the uniqueness of our faith. Furthermore, the Commission feels it is necessary for its members to educate our churches on the importance of records keeping, a task which can be accomplished via workshops and seminars within each district.

     Finally the Commission on Archives and History recognizes the need for a first class archival facility at Centenary College. We are delighted to have received from Centenary College a pledge of assistance on this important project. Without such a facility, adequately funded and staffed, our task of preserving one of the richest heritages of any faith will be hardpressed.

Lewis M. Morris, Jr, Chair

1988 Report to Annual Conference

     Last year's report anticipated completion of Walter W. Vernon's Becoming One People, A History of Louisiana Methodism in time for presentation at Annual Conference.  With that accomplished, the Commission accepted responsibility for directing efforts to publicize and distribute the book.  More than one thousand copies have been distributed, mainly through availability at conference and the sustained efforts of district superintendents.  The history of Methodist accomplishment in Louisiana over almost two centuries is impressive and inspiriational, and one which every Methodist in Louisiana should know and enjoy.  Enthusiasm and high praise characterize the response of those who have read Dr. Vernon's book.  Copies can be obtained through district superintendents, directly from the conference office in Baton Rouge, or at Annual Conference.

     With an expression of deep appreciation to Dr. Vernon for outstanding work in preparing this history and a feeling of satisfaction over the commission's part in this major accomplishment.  Archives and History turns to its most fundamental task, that of directing and participating in a program of good record-keeping at every level of conference activity and of collecting documents which contain and preserve the story of Louisiana Methodism for future generations. 

     The Louisiana Conference needs an archival program of record-keeping and historical collection in every Methodist church of the conference.  This means every church needs an officially designated church historian and suitable storage space.  District historians will work closely with local church historians and church committees in this on-going project.  The commission and conference archivist, will work with both district and local historians.

     Among the resource persons inspiring and guiding the Commission on Archives and History are Dr. Donald J. Lemieux, Director of the Louisiana State Archives, and Mr. Lewis Morris, Associate Director of the Louisiana State Archives.  Mr. Morris is also a pastor in the conference and a district historian.  The state archivists' enthusiasm for our work helps the commission understand that Methodist history and records are important not just for our denomination but for the state, region, and nation as well.

     The Commission on Archives and History needs the help of everyone in the conference for this ministry of preserving the history of Louisiana Methodism and passing it on to posterity.

Alton D. Hancock, Chair

1987 Report to Annual Conference

     For about two thousand years, the church, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has born witness to and has witnessed in its midst the atoning and reconciling work of Christ.  The history of the church preserves the record of that witness.  Preserving the church's history is itself, then, a most important ministry of witnessing to Christ's continued work in the world.

     The Conference Commission on Archives and History has the special responsibility of preserving the history of the church in order for that history to be a witness to future generations.  The most basic part of this task is the creation, collection, and preservation of the written and oral records which can assure that the historical heritage of Louisiana Methodism will not be lost.

     The commission is trying to set up and put in motion a complete and efficient conference-wide program of records collection.  This program will require the active and coordinated work of commission, district historians, local church historians, and the conference archivist.  District historians will be a major factor in this program's success.  They will oversee the training and work of local church archival efforts.  This work in two districts is already off to a running start with some others not far behind.  The commisssion will include district historians in its June and January meetings beginning in June, 1987, and will routinely offer workshops to train them and encourage their work in the districts.

     At the convocation of boards and commissions in January, the commission had a special and very high quality workshop.  Dr. Donald J. Lemieux, Archivist and Director of the Louisiana State Archives, and Rev. Lewis Morris, Associate Director of the State Archives, discussed the importance of collecting and saving records and the types of records that should be collected.  Rev. Morris is also the district historian for the Baton Rouge/Hammond District.  He and Mrs. Sarah Kreutziger, district historian for the New Orleans/Slidell District, shared with the commission the many successful projects they had under way in their districts.

     The Conference Archives at Centenary College has received some new material on the Methodist Protestant Church in Louisiana and a number of Methodist Episcopal journals.  There have also been a few additions to the Archives' collection of local church histories, some of which were updates of histories already in the collection.

     Boeuf Prairie Methodist Church in the Monroe District applied for a historical marker, and the commission certified that it qualified.  The marker will be presented at Conference.

     The commission has sent one district historian and one commission member to a Jurisdictional workshop on women's history at Perkins.  The knowledge and experiences they gain there will be of value for future workshops in the Louisiana Conference.

     The main project of the commission has been the preparation of Becoming One People, A History of Louisiana Methodism by the History Task Group.  Both the chairperson and the secretary of the Commission on Archives and History have been deeply involved in reading, editing, finding and selecting pictures, and the numerous other arrangements for printing.  Dr. Walter Vernon is the author.  Mrs. Norma Winegeart is officially the chairperson of the task group and in addition has done the many tasks usually handled by a publisher.  The chairperson of Archives and History has served as editor.  Although the book is not ready at the writing of this report, it is generally on schedule and presentation at Annual Conference is fully expected.  The printer has estimated that the book will contain some 450 pages.  The History Task Group has set the price at $15 if the book is picked up at Conference or at the Council on Ministries office in Baton Rouge.  For an additional $5 for postage and handling, one can secure a copy by mail from the Council on Ministries office.

Alton O. Hancock, Chairperson

1986 Report to Annual Conference

    The 1985 Annual Conference authorized the appointment of district historians and accepted the guidelines for that office which the Commission on Archives and History had submitted.  The following district historians have been appointed:

     Alexandria - Mrs. Marion Taylor
     Baton Rouge / Hammond - Lews M. Morris, Jr.
     Baton Rouge / Lafayette - Allen F. Martin
     Monroe - Mrs. Lester Higgens
     New Orleans / Houma - Parker Schneidau
     New Orleans / Slidell - Sarah Kreutziger
     Ruston - Bill Stokes
     Shreveport - Bentley Sloan

     The duties of district historians are given in the guidelines, which are printed in last year's Conference Journal.  In order to aid these officers in beginning their work, the Commission on Archives and History held a workshop for district historians in Alexandria on November 23, 1985.  Mr. William Beal, archivist for Methodism's national archives in New Jersey, was an exceptionally fine leader of the workshop.  The purpose was to help train district historians to aid local church historians in establishing local record-archival programs.

     The first big project of the district historians is now underway.  First, they will supply the Commission with the names and addresses of each local church historian in their districts.  They will then target a local church and aid the local historian in establishing a church archive.  When this project is completed, the Conference will have some exemplar local archives and experienced district historians who can train local historians in their districts to develop an archive in each church.

     The Commission plans to hold a series of workshops for districts and local historians and to aid in setting up records-archival programs in local churches.

     The Conference Archives at Centenary College received applications for historical markers from two churches: Bartholemew (Monroe District) and First United Methodist Church, Crowley (Lake Charles District).  The Commission approved both applications.  The markers will be presented during Annual Conference.

     Mrs. Norma Winegeart, Chairperson of the History Writing Task Group, reports that the History of Louisiana Methodism project is progressing and on schedule.  The author, Dr. Walter Vernon, is about half way through writing the chapters and well beyond that in his research.  This project remains top priority with our Commission.

Alton O. Hancock, Chairperson

1985 Report to Annual Conference

     This Conference Commission has two fundamental responsibilities: (a) to promote, gather, and preverve records on every aspect of United Methodism in Louisiana,  and  (b)  to  preserve for future generations accounts of  the persons behind Conference statistics.

     Records of programs, projects, and plans of Conference agencies provide current  leaders with the collective wisdom and experience of as many  years of  human  effort as the records allow.   If records are gathered and used properly, agencies will not have to ''reinvent the wheel'' every generation or every quadrennium but can “stand on the shoulders'' of those who  have gone  before.   By learning from such records, we can avoid repeating  past mistakes and can build further on good foundations left by our predecessors. We urge all agencies to aid us in this part of our task by  following  the direction  of  the  Discipline and sending copies of their minutes to the Conference Archives at Centenary College.

     Louisiana  Methodism is far more than boards, commissions, and other agencies.   Louisiana Methodists are Louisiana Methodism,  The real witness and inspiration of Louisiana Methodism come through persons and are conveyed to  the future through persons.   Preserving the accounts of individuals is more difficult than preserving the records of agencies.   The necessary documents are often in the form of personal letters, notes, diaries, journals, and the like.   Understandably,  families are often reluctant to give  these up and sometimes through unintentional neglect let them deteriorate and become unusable.   This loss makes it increasingly difficult as the years go by to reconstruct the life, accomplishments, and witness of individuals.   The  Commission urges anyone who has such material to contact the Conference Archives and make arrangements for copying or depositing  the material and determining any restrictions on its use by researchers.

     The Commission on Archives and History, with the help of the Conference Archives  at  Centenary College and at Dillard university (for  material  on members  and agencies of former Conference B),  is always ready to  help  in gathering  and preserving the documents on any and all aspects of  Methodist heritage.

     The  most  significant accomplishment of the Commission and the ad hoc Committee to Write the History of Louisiana Methodism was  getting  the Conference history underway.   Dr. Walter Vernon has done a large amount of research already and has produced a working outline and the first chapter of the book.  The target date for release is Annual Conference, 1987.  Members of the Committee are:   Mrs.  Norma S.  Winegeart,  chairperson.  Mr. Welton Brumfield, Mrs. Inez Chrisentery. Dr. Clyde Frazier, Jr., Dr. Alton Hancock, Dr. Charles B. Simmons, Dr, Kirby A. Vining, and Dr. Harvey C. Williamson.

     Finally, the Commission has submitted to the Conference a resolution for approval  and  selection  of  district historians  in  accordance  with  the following guidelines:

Guidelines For District Historians -Louisiana Annual Conference

I. Selection of the District Historian
     The district historian should be nominated by the District
     Committee on Nominations in consultation with the District
     Chapter of the Historical Society, if there be such, and elected in the same manner as other members of the District  Council on Ministries.

(Initially, the district historian may be named by the district superintendent, until the procedure above can be effected.)

II. Relation to the District Council on Ministries
    The district historian should be a member of the District Council on Ministries.

III. Relation to the Historical Society
     The district historian shall be an ex-officio member of the Annual Conference Historical Society and an ex-officio officer of the District Chapter of the Society.

IV. Relation to the Commission on Archives and History
     The district historians of the several districts shall be related to the Annual Conference Commission on Archives and History in an advisory capacity to be defined by the Commission.

V. Function and Responsibilities of the District Historians

   1. In cooperation with the District Superintendent, to see that all district records are properly kept and preserved.
   2. To encourage and assist local churches in writing and revising their histories.
   3. To secure copies of local church histories and other valuable historical materials; to preserve these records within the district; and to transmit copies of these records to the Annual Conference Archives  (former Conference B materials to Dillard University and other materials to Centenary College).
   4. To prepare a list of churches and pastoral charges within the district showing the arrangement of churches and charges throughout the years.
   5. To prepare a record of ministers who have served charges within the district.
   6. To assist in the organization and work of the District Chapter of the Historical Society.
   7. To serve as a “'resource historian” to aid local churches and individuals in historical research.
   8. To participate in such training workshops as may be planned by the Commission on Archives and History for district historians.

Alton 0. Hancock, Chairperson

1984 Report to Annual Conference

     The Commission on Archives and History has the continuing task of maintaining records of the conference, its agencies and institutions by collecting, preserving, classifying and cataloguing varied archival materials: including minutes, journals, reports, manuscripts, diaries, photographs, maps, etc. These records and archival materials are available in the Cline Room of the Magale Library of centenary College. A second depository is located in the Will W. Alexander Library of Dillard University in New Orleans.

     Many local churches are now in the process of revising their local history as a part of the celebration of the bicentennial. The Commission would appreciate a copy of the revised history as well as copies of anniversary programs, dedication of buildings, historical sites, or other documents.

     Archival materials are valuable in research and in planning programs, activities, projects, in the celebration of the Bicentennial of American Methodism in Louisiana The Archivist is prepared to assist the Bicentennial of American Methodism in Louisiana. The Archivist is prepared to assist the Bicentennial Committee in this effort.

Wadsworth A Davis, Chairman

1983 Report to Annual Conference

     The Commission on Archives and History is continually engaged in collecting, cataloging, and preserving official documents, journals, minutes, programs and other historical items of The United Methodist Church in Louisiana.

     These records are stored in the Cline room of the Magale Library of Centenary College in Shreveport and in the Will W. Alexander Library of Dillard University in New Orleans.

     Local churches have the continuing task of revising and bringing up-to-date their local history and sending a copy to the Commission. These churches may also request information concerning historical items pertaining to individuals and churches. The Archivist is prepared to render such service.

     There is a committee in each local church preparing for the celebration of the Bicentennial of American Methodism, 1784-1984. Dr Clyde Frazier is the Interpreter for this celebration and is prepared to offer suggestions and guidelines to the church for its celebration. A History Task Force has been appointed to supervise the writing of The History of Louisiana Methodism as a part of the Bicentennial celebration.

     Mr. Ernest Arnold, a member of this commission and also a member of the National Commission is the official representative for the collection of funds for the new building of Archives and History at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Each local church is being asked to collect a special offering in 1984 on Heritage Sunday and send it to the Archival Center at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey as Louisiana's contribution to our Central Archival Building.

Wadsworth A. Davis, Chairman

1982 Report to Annual Conference

     The Commission on Archives and History has the responsibility of establishing a complete record of the conference, its agencies and institutions, by collecting, preserving, and cataloging the official documents, minutes, and historical items of The United Methodist Church in Louisiana.  The Commission maintains two depositories where these records are stored: the Cline Room of the Magale Library at Centenary College in Shreveport, and The WIll W. Alexander Library at Dillard University in New Orleans.

     We are pleased to acknowledge the support of local churches in the continuing task of writing church histories and forwarding copies of anniversary programs, dedications of buildings, historical sites, and other important documents which help to complete our records. The Archivist reports greater use of the archival materials which are presently available.

     A History Workshop was conducted by Dr. John Ness at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Ruston, Louisiana. Those in attendance received valuable information concern-ing the work of the history committee in the local church.

     The Bicentennial Committee is coordinafing the Bicentennial Celebration of American Methodism 1784-1984 which will be observed by the conference and local churches. Various types of activities, projects, and programs and other planning information for this celebration may be found in the May 1982 issue of the Interpreter.

Wadsworth A. Davis Chairman

1981 Report to Annual Conference

     The Commission on Archives and History continues to interpret the scope of its work to the Annual Conference, District Conference, Boards, Agencies, and local churches. Through the use of workshops, displays, correspondence and inquiries there is developed a greater awareness of the importance of preserving official records, minutes, documents, photographs, and other archival materials for present and future use.

     Centenary College in Shreveport and Dillard University in New Orleans serve as official depositories for all archival materials. Cataloguing, storing, and preserving these invaluable resources is a continuous process so that these resources are readily available to the clergy, laymen, researchers, and other interested workers.

     Your participation is twofold: Greater use of the archival materials which are presen fly available and adding to the collection by sending to the library copies of programs, anniversaries, local church histories, and other documents so as to keep our records current.

     Two representatives from the Commission attended The South Cenfral Jurisdictional Conference on Archives and History in Dallas, October 34 and brought back new creative approaches for developing workshops on Oral Church Histories.      Additional materials including guidelines, pamphlets, bibliographies were also made available for writing church histories and discovering the wide range of projects used to stimulate interest in archival materials.

1980 Report to Annual Conference

     The Louisiana Conference Commission on Archives and History continues to establish a record of the ongoing history of our conference with the preservation and cataloging of conference and local church records. The main depository for these records and historical items is the Cline Room of the Magale Library at Centenary College. Other materials of former Conference B are in safe keeping at Alexander Library at Dillard University in New Orleans.

     A Church History Workshop was held on October 9, 1979, at the First United Methodist Church of Baton Rouge with Dr. John Ness, Archivist of the National Archives of the United Methodist Church, as instructor.

     The Commission is in the process of establishing a permanent record of the founding date of all past and present United Methodist Churches in Louisiana. Companion to this will be a record of all men and women who have served in the ministry of the Louisiana Annual Conference. The Commission requests the help and cooperation of all churches and interested parties in this difficult task.

     We continue to encourage churches of historical significance to register with the Commission and to apply for a "LOUISIANA METHODISM HISTORICAL SITE" marker. The cost is $30 for the marker and application can be obtained by writing the Commission at 1502 West St., Winnsboro, La., 71295.

     In this day of tape recording of sermons and special events, we urge pastors to send us tapes of their best sermon and of special programs in their church. Especially helpful are tapes of longtime members of a church who can relate stories of events and experiences in the history of a church. The "History Project" for the writing of a new history of Louisiana Methodism is still being planned. A second Church Workshop for North Louisiana will be held in the Fall of 1980 at a place and time to be determined.

     Reverend James Christie, Chairman of the Commission, resigned on January 25 because of his coming move from the Conference to a position with the Office of Finance and Field Service of the Department of Church Extension of the National Division of the Board of Global Ministries. Reverend W. M. McCutcheon, Vice-Chairman, assumed the chair of the Commission and Mr. Wadsworth Davis of New Orleans was elected new Vice-Chairman.

W. M. McCutcheon Chairman

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