The Commission on Archives and History (CAH) is a commission of the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church. The CAH is responsible for assuring the preservation of the heritage of the conference through the conservation and preservation of the historical records, documents, publications, artifacts, historic sites, and other items of present or future historical value, as well as promoting that history and heritage as a ministry of the church. (A more detailed description of the duties of the CAH is available below.)
The current president of the Commission on Archives and History is Rev. Leland Carden.
The Historical Society of the Tennessee Conference is a separate body, organized by the CAH, that works with the commission, providing an avenue for the programs and activities that carry out the history ministry of the church, and particularly providing an opportunity for people not serving on the officially constituted Commission on Archives and History to participate in such ministry.
The current president of the Historical Society is David Martin.
The Conference Historian is appointed by the Commission on Archives and History. This individual is generally responsible for researching and presenting history of the conference, connected bodies, Methodism, and the church in general, as well as assisting in authoritative representation of these histories by others. His duties are defined by the CAH. He may, or may not hold, an appointment or professional position with the church.
The current Conference Historian is Rev. Von Unruh.
The Tennessee Conference Depository/(Archival Repository and Historical Library) is located at 520 Commerce Street, Suite 205, Nashville, TN 37203. It is managed by the Historian and Archivist, an appointment made by the bishop.
The current Historian and Archivist is Rev. Von Unruh. (Note: While this is a separate position from that of Conference Historian, which is appointed by the Commission on Archives and History, at present, both positions are filled by Rev. Unruh.)
The CAH has other members serving as directed by the Tennessee Annual Conference, as well as professional resource people, such as additional archivists, who serve in support of the commission. The Historical Society executive board currently meets with the CAH.
The Discipline of the United Methodist Church (in paragraph 641.1) defines the duties of the CAH as:
“It shall be the duty of the commission to collect, preserve, and make accessible the historically significant records of the annual conference and its agencies, including data relating to the origin and history of the conference and its antecedents; to encourage and assist the local churches in preserving their records, compiling their histories, and celebrating their heritage; to provide for the permanent safekeeping of the historical records of all abandoned or discontinued churches in the bounds of the annual conference and its antecedents (see ¶ 2549.3); to maintain a fire-safe historical and archival depository and to see that all items which obviously will have value for future history are properly preserved therein; to provide for the ownership of real property and to receive gifts and bequests; to nominate to the General Commission on Archives and History buildings, locations, or structures within the annual conference for designation as historic sites or heritage landmarks; to maintain contact with officially designated historic sites and heritage landmarks in their bounds; to assist the bishop or the appropriate conference committee in planning for the historical hour and other appropriate historical observances at annual conference sessions; to establish retention and disposition schedules for annual conference and local church records under standards or guidelines developed by the General Commission on Archives and History; to cooperate with and report, when requested, to the general and jurisdictional commissions on archives and history; and to engage with other Wesleyan, Methodist, or Evangelical United Brethren-related denominations in lifting up our joint heritage.”