According to Paragraph 641 of the Discipline, the Conference Archives is an arm of the Conference Commission on Archives and History. It helps the Commission carry out its missions of (1) collecting and preserving the conference’s significant history records; (2) encouraging and assisting local churches in preserving their records, writing their histories, and celebrating their heritage; and (3) providing for permanent safekeeping of records of abandoned and discontinued churches.
In addition to the items required by the Discipline, the Archives has a file on each church in the conference. These files consist of information obtained from the church and from clippings regarding the church from newspapers, Christian Advocates, and other publications. It does not have the membership records or official charge conference records of active churches. It also has, though it is not a disciplinary requirement, a collection of 19th century charge conference records.
The Archives also has a file for each preacher, that we know of, who has preached in western North Carolina from 1780 forward. Part of our information on preachers is in the form of a data base of all 18th and 19th century preachers that lists all of their ordination information and their appointments. This data base is valuable for tracing preachers who left the itinerant ministry and did not have an obituary. Other than obituaries, however, we do not have much genealogical information about the preachers. We have collections of the papers of several prominent preachers and historians, including Carl King, Garland Stafford, Homer Keever, and Bill Bumgarner.
We are happy to help local churches find, preserve, collect, and write their history. We also provide information about previous preachers regarding their ordination, appointments, retirement, and death. We frequently receive genealogical inquiries, but can only provide limited information on past preachers. In addition our genealogical requests are a lower priority than requests about conference records or help for local churches.
In short, we are the place to go for background information for your current projects.
In addition to our WNC Conference Archives, there are other denominational resources available to assist persons and churches with their historical research. The Heritage Center at Lake Junaluska serves as the Archives for the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church and Lake Junaluska Assembly. More information can be found at http://www.lakejunaluska.com/activities/museums/heritage_center/ or at http://www.sejumc.org/templates/System/details.asp?id=59478&PID=986957.
The United Methodist Church Archives are at Drew University in Madison, NJ. Their web site is www.gcah.org. Their web site and their archives provide a wealth of resources. Of particular interest are their guidelines for which documents should be retained by the local church. These guidelines can be found at http://www.gcah.org/resources/managing-records-of-the-annual-conference-and-local-church.
The Archives are open on Tuesdays from 9:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M., and on many Wednesdays from 9:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M. Please call the Conference office at 704-535-2260 or 1-800-562-7929 and ask for the Archives. You can reach us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org (Nancy Andersen) or email@example.com (Jim Pyatt). We are always glad to have researchers come and visit; we do request that you call or e-mail to arrange your visit both to make sure that we are here and to enable us to have the resources that you need readily available. Our staff of Nancy Andersen and Jim Pyatt are ready and willing to assist you with your research projects.