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Historic Sites

See The Book of Discipline, 2012, 1712.1a.

An Historic Site is a location or structure associated with an event, development, or personality deemed of strong historic significance in the history of an Annual, Central, or Jurisdictional Conference. Historic Sites are designated by formal action of the Annual, Central, or Jurisdictional Conference within whose region the site is located.

The effort to designate an Historic Site is not a casual one. The case for historicity, maintenance, and use must be well established. The General Commission on Archives and History counsels that the designation be bestowed sparingly, after careful investigation and research. Inquiry should be made into such pertinent factors as present ownership, maintenance, and accessibility for those who may wish to visit.

The commission further recommends that a painstaking effort be made to collect and preserve substantive proof of the site's history, such as books, pamphlets, maps, pastoral and church records, journals, letters, periodicals, photographs, and personal memorabilia. Copies of these materials should be deposited in the conference archives.

The Process

A local church, a group, or an individual may initiate the process, but the Annual Conference Commission on Archives and History (or equivalent) must become involved at an early stage. Only the Annual Conference commission can make the formal recommendation to the Annual, Central, or Jurisdictional Conference.

1. Download an application and the guidelines in PDF or request an application form for registering a United Methodist Historic Site from the General Commission on Archives and History, P.O. Box 127, Madison, NJ 07940. The completed application should be sent to the chairperson of the Annual Conference Commission on Archives and History.

2. Study each proposed site objectively and in a scholarly manner. This not only involves gathering data and materials, but developing a clear understanding of the site's significance to The United Methodist Church (or its antecedents or components) and various factors relating to its preservation, interpretation, and use.

3. The Annual Conference commission should review the application carefully. A site visit is highly desirable. If there are any questions, the application should be returned to the preparers for additional data. If the commission endorses the application, it is ready for Annual Conference action.

4. The Annual Conference commission then presents the completed form, with the commission endorsement and supported by available evidence, to the Annual, Central, or Jurisdictional Conference. The conference should vote on the application.

5. Once approved by a conference, no United Methodist Historic Site is official until it has been registered with the General Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church. This requires submitting the application form, with proper signatures attesting to the favorable action of the conference. Upon payment of a registration fee, an official United Methodist Historic Site numbered marker will be issued. The registration fee is $75.00.

6. After formal registration of the Historic Site, there should be an appropriate ceremony, with representatives from historical societies as well as church groups, to mark the dedication and public presentation.

7. The General Commission requests descriptive material pertaining to the dedication of the Historic Site and later events. Programs, clippings, photographs, historic information, and other memorabilia should be forwarded regularly.

Historic Site Dedication Resources

It is customary to have a special dedication service for a site which have been approved as a United Methodist Historic Site by its respective annual conference and the General Commission on Archives and History.The General Commission often receives requests for an order of worship for these special services. We are happy to announce that we can now offer these resources online. Following the appropriate links will connect you to options for calls to worship, hymns, and litanies which might be appropriate for a dedication service. Please adapt these resources to reflect the specific contributions your historic site has made to the history of The United Methodist Church.