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United Methodist agency recognizes historic research


 The Rev. Robert Wiliams

By United Methodist News Service

May 4, 2007 | MADISON, N.J. (UMNS)

Research related to the history of American Methodism was recognized through 2007 grants and awards presented by the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History.

The award winners were announced April 25 by the Rev. Robert Williams, the commission's chief executive.

"These modest grants and awards are to encourage work in those areas that have been neglected in the past - that is, ethnic and women's history - and to encourage seminary students to strive for excellence is their Methodist history classes," Williams said.

"The commission is committed to the 'ministry of memory' as necessary for the making of disciples and for the shaping of the identity of the church."

The John Harrison Ness Memorial Award, presented annually for papers on "broadly conceived" United Methodist history, is given to students enrolled in a master of divinity program or its equivalent in United Methodist or other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.

"These modest grants and awards are to encourage work in … ethnic and women's history and to encourage seminary students to strive for excellence is their Methodist history classes."
-The Rev. Robert Williams
Hannah Bonner, a student of the Rev. Richard Heitzenrater of Duke University Divinity School, received the top award for her paper on "Awakening the Giant: The effects of J.D. Long's Pictures of Slavery on the Philadelphia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church." Second prize went to Erika K. R. Hirsch of Yale University Divinity School for her paper on "The Singable Mr. Wesley: German Hymns to Warm an English Heart." She is a student of the Rev. Donald Kirkham.

The $200 first-place and $100 second-place awards are presented in memory of Ness (1891-1980), a pastor, conference superintendent and denominational executive in the Evangelical United Brethren Church and former chief executive of the commission.

The commission's Racial/Ethnic History Research Grant encourages research and writing about the history of Asians, blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans in The United Methodist Church or its antecedents.

Sara E. Berndt, a doctoral candidate at George Washington University researching interactions between Americans and Cubans in Cuba during the U.S. military occupation there from 1898-1903, received that award.

"Efforts by both Cuban and American Methodists to establish churches and missions in Cuba were an essential part of these interactions," she wrote about her research.

The Jesse Lee Prize, honoring the first Methodist historian, encourages the writing of serious monographs in Methodist history, which includes studies of any antecedent bodies or offshoots of Methodism in the United States or its missions. The commission provides up to $2,000 towards the publication of the winning manuscript, with publication to be arranged by the author.

Awarded once every four years, the 2007 Jesse Lee Prize was given to the Rev. Benjamin L. Hartley, visiting assistant professor of Christian Mission at Palmer Theological Seminary, Eastern University, St. Davids, Pa.

He was chosen for his work on "Holiness Evangelical Urban Mission and Identity in Boston, 1860-1910," written while a doctoral candidate at Boston University School of Theology under the direction of professors Dana Robert and David Hempton.

Grants also are available for the research and writing of history involving women. More information can be found at www.gcah.org, the commission's Web site.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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Commission on Archives and History

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