Updated Conference history book chronicles accomplishments of South Georgia UMC churches


By Kara Witherow, Editor

In its 152-year history, the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church has accomplished some amazing things, said Anne Packard, curator of the Moore Methodist Museum and conference archivist.

In an effort to document what God has done in and through South Georgia United Methodists, Packard, along with historians from each local South Georgia church, has compiled and published an updated history of the conference, “History of the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church: 1866-2018.”

“It’s very easy to think you know what Methodism in South Georgia means, but you might be surprised to learn what great deeds, what great people have come out of this particular conference,” Packard said. “This conference has done amazing things and can still do amazing things.”

Included in the book are histories of every church in the conference along with photos and contact information. Several essays written by conference pastors and leaders have also been incorporated into the book.

“We hope people use it not so much as a reference book, but more as a ‘Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul’ type book,” Packard said. “It’s not just one church’s history, it’s the history of the Conference.”

The project began nearly four years ago when Packard and her staff began digitizing South Georgia’s church histories and adding them to the museum’s website. That began the process of updating each church’s record, and they saw the need to update the Conference’s history, too.

Much had changed in the 34 years since Mary Nell Waite wrote the Conference’s first history book in 1984, but as Packard and her team set to work they found something surprising.

“As far as church histories go, it’s the story of the more we change, the more we stay the same,” she said. “It’s the question of how can we best help our members, what can we offer, dealing with money, how to get people in the door. I think that as much as we have changed with cell phones and technology, it’s still a question of how best to reach you. And as much as we use technology, it still doesn’t replace person-to-person contact.”

The most impactful changes in the past 30 years had to do with the role of women and minorities in ministry, Packard said.

This project was important, she said, to build on the work that had been done before and to preserve and celebrate the past 30 years.

“History isn’t just something that happened in the 1700s, it’s something that happened last year, it’s something that happened in 2014. Making history is something that continually happens.”

Click here to purchase “History of the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church: 1866-2018,” or call the museum at 912-638-4050. Proceeds from the sale of the book will help fund future museum renovations.

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