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GCAH kicks off Pride Month with collection, initiatives

General Commission on Archives and History

LGBTQ+ Historic Documents, Grant, Podcast and Research Guide Announced

June 1, 2023

Madison, N.J. – In recognition of Pride Month that begins today to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, Dr. Ashley Boggan D., general secretary of the Commission on Archives and History, announces a number of special initiatives, including the acquisition of documents from the Rev. Karen Dammann, who in 2003 became the first United Methodist clergyperson to be put on trial for “practices incompatible with Christian teaching” after she disclosed that she was a lesbian. The personal papers, court documents and journals will be housed as part of GCAH’s permanent collection.

The collection will be on display at the United Methodist Archives and History Center on the campus of Drew University.

“We are honored to add the historic documents associated with Rev. Dammann’s trial to the GCAH repository,” Boggan says. “Part of our emphasis is to intentionally collect and preserve the stories of LGBTQ+ Methodists.”

In addition to the news about the Dammann documents, GCAH also announces a new grant to support research projects that relate to LGBTQ+ Methodist history. The $1,000 grant is named in memory of the Rev. Dr. Ken Rowe, who served as GCAH’s Methodist Librarian for 32 years.

“Ken was a pioneer in expanding the narrative of Methodists, specifically to include LGBTQ+ Methodists,” Boggan says. “He had a brilliant way of rethinking and reshaping Methodist histories that allow our pasts to truly speak to and even shape United Methodism today.”

Applications for the grant, which is funded by a private and anonymous donor, can be made by sending a research proposal, budget narrative, two letters of recommendation and a CV to Boggan at [email protected] and Michelle Merkel-Brunskill at [email protected]. Deadline for applications is July 31, 2023. Learn more.

Later this month, GCAH will release a research guide intended to aid in LGBTQ+-specific research for Drew University and GCAH’s respective collections.

Rose Sharon, a PhD student studying Theological and Philosophical Studies in Religion at Drew University and a graduate intern at GCAH, developed the guide.

“Constructing this guide was an exciting adventure for me not only as a scholar, but also as a queer and trans person of faith,” Sharon says. “Digging through the GCAH archives and learning about the history of LGBTQ+ concerns in relation to The UMC was both thrilling and shocking. As I explored the passionate, scandalous moments of this history — from the implementation of the ‘incompatibility clause’ to the current season of disaffilation within The UMC -- I came to have a deeper appreciation not only for queer resistance, but also for the adaptive nature of our faith structures. By wrestling with contemporary social issues, we begin the process of celebrating our many differences as a holy community and welcoming all people into the sacred doors of the church.”

To further support the LGBTQ+ community, a special episode of “Un-Tied Methodism” will air on July 20. This conversation between Dammann and the Rev. Bob Ward was recorded in March 2023 on the 20th anniversary of Dammann’s trial. Ward served as Dammann’s clergy counsel during the trial.

Media contact:
Crystal Caviness
[email protected]


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