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The General Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church offers an annual award of $500 (first prize) and $250 (second prize) to the students enrolled in the M. Div. program (or its equivalent) in United Methodist or other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools who submit the best papers on some aspect of United Methodist history broadly conceived.

The award is given in memory of John Harrison Ness (1891-1980), pastor, conference superintendent, and denominational executive in the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

  • The paper must have been judged by its author’s professor as one of quality. Once the paper has passed his or her critical judgment, the professor will submit it to the General Commission on Archives and History.
  • The paper must be properly footnoted and bear evidence of thorough and reliable handling of sources using the annotation standards accepted at the seminary. A bibliography also must be included.
  • The paper should normally range in length from 3,000 to 5,000 words.
  • One copy of the paper is to be submitted electronically in Word by the recommending professor to The winning paper(s) may be published in Methodist History, at the discretion of the editor.
  • Judges for the General Commission will be appointed under the direction of the History Committee of the Commission. They will be professional historians, acquainted with United Methodist history.

Deadline date for submitting papers will be March 17 for each school year. By that date, all competing papers must be in the hands of the Dr. Ashley Boggan D., General Secretary of the General Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church (

The decision of the judges will be final. No prize will be awarded if the judges decide that no paper submitted has the required quality of scholarship for an award.