Sunday, February 26, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History  Feb. 26

Texas Conference Heritage Center Opens This Tuesday, Feb. 28

We are delighted to invite you to the dedication and grand opening of the Texas Conference Archival Center in Conroe, Texas, at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 28. 

The Archival Center is on the campus of the Texas Conference Mission Center, but is a building devoted solely to archives.  The grand opening of the Mission Center will also occur on the 28th so visitors can see facilities devoted to two different conference ministries. 

The road to the Conroe facility has been long and winding.  The Discipline written after the creation of the United Methodist Church in 1968 mandated that each annual conference maintain its archives in a “fire safe” building under the direction of a Commission on Archives and History.   The various annual conferences complied with the mandate in various ways.  Some annual conferences placed the archives in the conference headquarters.  Some had a college or university library available.  A small number used a museum or historic structure. 

The constituent conferences of the TUMHS have examples of all three.  The Rio Texas, New Mexico, and North West Texas Conference Archives are in the Conference offices.  The North Texas and Oklahoma Indian Mission Conferences are in University Libraries (SMU and OCU respectively).  The Central Texas Conference Archives are in a repurposed church building. 

The Texas Conference Archives have had a curious journey.  Before the creation of the CAH the main ministry of memory was the Conference Heritage Society and the “Conference Trunk.”  The custodian of the trunk, the Rev. Charles F. Smith (1859-1958), brought the trunk of historical artifacts to conference every year for display, and when the Central Building at Lakeview was completed, one room was designated the Heritage Center.  

  The first response of the Texas Conference to the 1968 General Conference action was to designate the Heritage Center in the Central Building at Lakeview as the Archives.  Such an arrangement proved unsuitable.  The space had been designed more as museum display than records storage.  The site was inconvenient to researchers.  As the Lakeview facility proved inadequate, the Archives moved to Lon Morris College.  The college president, Faulk Landrum, solicited funds for the construction of an addition to the library to serve as archival storage.  One of the librarians became the Archivist. 

Later the Archives were removed from the library and were moved to a double classroom in an academic building.  Archival duties were removed from the library staff and entrusted to a retired pastor.  In July 2010, Dr. Landrum, who had since retired and was Conference Archivist, was informed that the space in the academic building was now needed for instructional purposes. 

The archives were moved to rental storage units in Jacksonville, and the CAH was tasked with planning for a permanent facility.  The “exodus and exile” period of our history is finally over.  We are coming out of the wilderness.  I hope to see you on the 28th as we celebrate. 

The address is 3771 N Loop 336 E, Conroe, Texas 77302.     


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