Episcopal Historians and Archivists Board Seeks Visibility and Members

Posted Oct 15, 2017

[National Episcopal Historians and Archivists] Higher visibility and membership, and the 2018 annual conference were the focal points of the National Episcopal Historians and Archivists (NEHA) board retreat at New Haven, Conn. Sept. 21 and 22, 2017.

The history of reconciliation in the Episcopal Church is the theme for the 2018 NEHA conference taking place August 7 through 10 at Trinity on the Green Episcopal Church, New Haven, also the site for the NEHA board retreat. The Rev. Canon C.K. Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop, will give a luncheon address August 8 at Trinity, and the Rev. Barbara Lau, director of The Pauli Murray Project at Duke University, will give the keynote dinner address August 9 at the nearby Graduate Club. Workshops, tours of historic churches and cemeteries, and access to a dozen collections of the Yale University Library system are among the offerings. Online registration will be available in January at www.episcopalhistorians.org/2018.

Much of the board’s time was spent discussing ways to raise awareness of NEHA in the wider church, and to expand the organization’s membership from 204 currently to 500 by 2021, NEHA’s 60th year.

Several factors were cited by membership chair Jeannie Terepka as contributing to the static membership, including an institutional focus suggested by the organization’s name, limited distribution of the quarterly magazine The Historiographer, and a need to better recognize the role of volunteers in congregations.

Terepeka suggested a number of ways to turn things around, including more connections with other organizations in the church and with local history groups, assembling a first-time membership package that includes NEHA publications in both English and Spanish, earlier and more detailed notices on annual conferences, blanketing the church with publicity on NEHA, and rewriting the NEHA purpose statement to make it more welcoming to volunteers.

Along with a redesign of the organization’s brochure and expanding its distribution to state historical societies, the board agreed to reach out to dioceses not currently connected to NEHA or without members in NEHA and gather information on people involved in collecting and preserving diocesan and congregational history. Of the 100 dioceses in the church, over 20 have no connection with NEHA.

In other business, the board agreed to participate with the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church (HSEC) in sharing the cost of an exhibit booth at the 2018 General Convention in Austin, Texas; received an update on the publication of Writing a Congregational History, due to be printed by the end of the year; and reviewed plans for the 2019 Tri-History Conference in Toronto, jointly sponsored by NEHA, HSEC, and the Episcopal Women’s History Project.

NEHA provides a forum for exchanging ideas, gives mutual support, and serves as an archival and historical network for any who preserve, explore and share the historical dimensions of the Episcopal Church. Begun as an outgrowth of the Church Historical Society in 1961, NEHA seeks to answer the needs of church officials and leaders who know attention should be given to nurturing congregational, diocesan, and institutional historians, registrars and archivists. More information at www.episcopalhistorians.org.