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Monday, September 2, 2013

"How To Write and Publish the History of A United Methodist Church" (1969)

The Commission on Archives and History of the UMC published this small booklet just in time for the writing of the 1975 church history.  Significant areas are underscored and the outline of the finished work clearly follows the suggestions of the booklet by Wallace Guy Smeltzer.  

In the introductory remarks he notes: "An accurate, well written history of a local church has real value. It lifts up the achievements, services, and sacrifices of past generations in the church. It inspires pride and loyalty on the part of present church members...It can enhance one's appreciation and love of the church of our Lord which is a "thousand years the same." 

At the time the guide was written the General Conference made the compilation of such a history the responsibility of a local church history committee under the guidance of a local church historian.  The history was to be compiled and then brought up to date each year.

The booklet was divided into subheadings:
First Step
Source Material for the History
Exploring Local Church Sources
Annual Conference and Denominational Sources
Community Sources
Organizing the Material for the History
-Table of contents
-Preface by the author or the committee
-Chapter 1 How United Methodism came to (name of community)
-Chapter 2 Our Connectional Relationships
-Chapter 3 The Story of Our Church Property
-Chapter 4 The Story of Our Church Organizations
-Chapter 5  The Record of Our Spiritual Life and Concern
-Chapter 6 The Growth of Our Church and Its Future
-Chapter 7 Our Present Church Organization
-Chapter 8 Our Current Membership Roll
Origin of the Church
-Connectional Relations of the Church
-Church Property
-The Organized Life of the Congregation
-The Spiritual Life of the Church
-The Progress of the Church
-Current Organization
-Membership roll
-Publishing the History

It is interesting to note that in the "Spiritual Life of the Church", the author says "the spiritual vitality of a church is difficult to measure. Some indication of it is provided, however, by evangelistic activities, such as camp meetings in earlier days, revival services, visitation evangelism campaigns, and preparatory class training.  An important indicator is the number of full time Christian workers produced by the church, such as ministers, missionaries, religious education directors or church music leaders....A social conscience of the church can be set forth by recording participation inactions for the causes of temperance, economic justic, civil rights, benevolent controbutions, and charitable relief..."

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A special "Friends of Wesley" group is made of individuals, organizations, and businesses who wish to support the historic preservation of the century old and historically significant Wesley Methodist Church (Wesley United Methodist Church) founded in 1910.

The inspiring windows dating to 1928 honored people significant to local Oklahoma City history but also to the history of Oklahoma Methodism.

The church founding and development was guided by lay people who were leaders in Oklahoma City development in real estate, banking, business, and education.

It stands as a rare remaining example of Methodist Churches in the English Gothic style and as work by a significant early architectural firm.

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Wesley United Methodist Church
1401 NW 25th
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma