A Moment for Mission
“Whenever I am in deep trouble, you make me live again; … you save me with your strong hand. The Lord will do all this for my sake. Your faithful love lasts forever!” — Psalm 138:7-8a, CEB
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Commission on Archives and History launched a Local Church Historian School. The initial offering included almost 800 participants from around the world, all attending from the comfort of their email inbox.
“GCAH’s work as an agency of The United Methodist Church is more than just historic preservation and records management,” said the Rev. Alfred T. Day, general secretary. “It’s also about equipping churches and conferences to find places where their respective histories intersect with current mission and ministry settings. It’s about promoting the ethos and DNA that formed and shaped Methodists to spark ministries that changed hearts, lives and communities because of an experience with God’s love in Jesus Christ.”
The curriculum covers a wide range of skills. The 12-week course allows people to move at their own pace through a series of exercises. Each week, participants receive reading material and assignments via email. They have access to an assigned moderator to answer questions, as well as access to a closed Facebook group with other course participants. Once completed, each participant receives a certificate from GCAH.
“We are completely saturated with ideas, information and ‘this worked for me’ testimonies,” said the Rev. Christopher Shoemaker, LCHS volunteer director. “But at the end of the day, it has to work in our local ministry context. Sometimes our stories are triumphant. Sometimes they are shameful. But our stories matter. Your story matters.”
Loving God, indeed, your faithful love lasts forever! As we remember the history of our church, we give thanks for the people who shaped our beliefs. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Second Sunday after Pentecost — Holy and forgiving God, it is easy for our lives to become singularly focused on our families, yet you call us to a broader understanding of family. We prioritize our money around the needs of our families and especially our children, and you challenge us to a global view of family and to look at all children with the love we look on those who live under our roof. As we give to you, open our eyes to see the wider family; our ears to hear the cries of hurting, hungry children; our hearts to experience the extravagantly generous love you pour down on us. We pray in the name of your son, our brother, Jesus. Amen. (Mark 3:20-35)
According to The Book of Discipline, the General Commission on Archives and History is “to encourage and assist the local churches in preserving their records, compiling their histories, and celebrating their heritage.”
Launched last year, a 12-week Local Church Historian School course allows people to move at their own pace through a series of exercises. Each week, participants receive reading material and assignments via email. Once completed, the participant receives a certificate from GCAH.
“Whether you’re part of a megachurch with 24,000 members or one of the 24 members of the United Methodist church in Leola, South Dakota,” said the Rev. Duane Coates, GCAH member, “the General Commission cares about your historical interests. By developing this course, which is now being accessed by United Methodists in 51 annual conferences in the jurisdictions and at least four of our seven central conferences, the General Church is better able to fulfill that mission and say that every one of our churches matters.”
Adapted from “GCAH Launches ‘Local Church Historians School’ Virtually,” General Commission on Archives and History website, Autumn 2020. Used by permission.