Georgia Baptist Historical Society
Recommendation for the dissolution of the Georgia Baptist Historical Society, Inc., April 2012
The Georgia Baptist Historical Society was founded by 64 charter members on July 10, 1964, at Mercer University in Macon. With a membership of over 200 during its prime, the society has held an annual meeting each spring, providing for rich fellowship and the presentation of dozens of historical essays on the history of Georgia Baptists from a wide variety of traditions. In addition, the society supported the work of the Georgia Baptist History Depository through donations of resources and funding for student assistants, archival supplies, and microfilming and binding of materials.
Since 1968 the society has published one or two newsletters each year. In alternate years since 1968, Viewpoints: Georgia Baptist History has been published as a carefully indexed, scholarly historical journal averaging 110 pages. Articles have featured people, churches, associations, conventions, educational institutions, and related topics within Missionary, Primitive, Free Will, and African-American Baptist life. The society published its 23rd volume of Viewpoints in 2012.
Four scholarly books have been produced: Baptists of Early America (1983), A History of the Georgia Baptist Association, 1784-1984 (1988, revised 1996), Cherokees and Baptists in Georgia (1989), and Missionary to Wiregrass Georgia: W.I. Patrick and His 1894-1895 Diary (2005). A practical guide, Preserving the Past for the Present and Future: Writing a History of Your Church & Saving the Records of Your Church, was revised in 2005. Three books concerned with marriage notices and obituaries in The Christian Index appeared in 1971, 1975, and 1980.
The society remained vibrant for almost forty years; however, in recent years the membership has dwindled significantly and it has aged, limiting attendance at meetings and the ability to sustain a viable organization. During this same time period, the number of scholars of Georgia Baptist history has also diminished, making program planning and selection of peer-reviewed material for Viewpoints more difficult.
In an effort to maintain the integrity of the society and to make the best use of its financial resources, we recommend the dissolution of the society and the disbursal of its assets to the Georgia Baptist History Depository at Mercer University. An endowment fund in honor of the society would be set up, the proceeds of which would be used in the acquisition, access, and preservation of Georgia Baptist resources. In this way, the good work of the society would be extended in support of the largest and broadest collection of Georgia Baptist records currently in existence. Legal counsel has been sought, and necessary paperwork would be provided to the Georgia Attorney General and the Georgia Secretary of State.
It should be noted that we would do this from a position of strength. We are gratified by the friendships, broad Baptist collections, and standards of scholarship that have developed through the society's work. We can be justifiably proud of the assets that have been set aside for the support of research on Georgia Baptists. The collections of the Georgia Baptist History Depository will not be harmed in any way by this dissolution. In fact, this added financial support will allow the Depository to maintain and even improve the preservation of and access to current items, the acquisition of new material, and the ongoing support of research in Baptist history.
Georgia Baptist Historical Society
Board of Directors
The GBHS has books available for purchase. Proceeds support the Robert G. and Anne F. Gardner Endowed Fund for Baptist History and Research.