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2016 John Harrison Ness Memorial Award Winners Announced

Featured 2016 John Harrison Ness Memorial Award Winners Announced

The General Commission on Archive and History of The United Methodist Church today announced the 2016 winners of its highly sought-after John Harrison Ness Memorial Award: Molly Brock White, 1st place, for her entry “Connectionalism and District Superintendency in The United Methodist Church” and Emily Robnett, 2nd place, for her entry ““Christine Allen: Missionary to the Belgian Congo.”

The John Harrison Ness Memorial Award, given annually in memory of John Harrison Ness (1891-1980), pastor, conference superintendent, and denominational executive in the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The $500 first prize and $300 second prize are awarded by GCAH to students enrolled in the M. Div. program (or its equivalent) in United Methodist or other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools to recognize and celebrate their interest and research in the area of church history.

White is a graduate of the Duke Divinity School and will serve in the North Carolina Conference at Concord UMC in Eli Whitney, NC. While at Duke, White focused much of her study in the area of Methodist history and theology working with professors such as Russell Richey, Randy Maddox, Will Willimon, and Stephen Gunter.

“I am so very grateful to be awarded the John Harrison Ness Memorial Award from The United Methodist Church’s General Commission on Archives and History,” said White. “One of the most powerful tools that The UMC has for facing our denomination’s future is its past.  The practical divinity stressed by founders such as John Wesley and Francis Asbury is as inspiring as it is useful.  While we cannot recreate the 18th century, we can adapt the faithful, connectional, Christ- and community-centered practices of our early Methodist traditions to the modern church.  Studying our history provides us with tools to move forward as a loving and disciplined body of Christ. The John Harrison Ness Memorial Award showcases the abundant treasure that can be discovered when we mine our history.”

Robnett is in her third year of her Ministry of Divinity program at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. She is a certified candidate for ordained ministry in the Oklahoma conference. Her paper was a result of an assignment by Dr. Ted Campbell as part of her UMC History class.  She had never written an historical paper before and was excited by what she discovered.

“Throughout Christian history, women's stories have been largely erased and silenced. When Dr. Campbell assigned this historical research paper, I was most interested in researching women in ministry,” said Robnett. “After visiting with our archivist at Bridwell, I discovered a large collection of African artifacts donated by Christine Allen. We had little information on how Mrs. Allen acquired these artifacts, and thus my research topic was born. Here was an opportunity to unearth the story of a woman in ministry, one of the first women to graduate from Southern Methodist University and travel to the Belgian Congo. Christine Allen was a brave and faithful woman, incredibly progressive, and one I have grown to admire in my study of her life. I am honored to receive this award and to have had the pleasure of learning Christine Allen's story, and write her back into Christian history where she belongs. She and so many other women blazed the trail in Christian ministry for women like me, and I am grateful for her service and love of God and God's people.”

GCAH is pleased to sponsor the John Harrison Ness Memorial awarded next in 2017. Information about various awards, grants and prizes for scholarly work in Methodist History can be found at http://gcah.org/research/grants-and-awards .