The staff of the Commission strives to provide assistance to chairpersons of conference commissions on archives and history and to conference archivists. In 2013, the chairpersons were invited to the annual meeting of the General Commission which included a session with just the chairpersons. Some of their comments and testimonies were:
"I did attend the training in 2013 on the campus of Drew University. It is always a wonderful experience to be among clergy and lay people who have an interest in Methodist history. The 4 full-time employees of the General Commission and the 24 actual Commission members seem to do a superlative job in the management, accession and policy development of archival material for The United Methodist Church. This was not my first training experience and the previous workshops helped me get the perspective I needed to operate the Alaska archive room as best as I can with what we have. I am spending more time on record identification for an inventory and have promoted use of the archive room via the Conference newsletter to the local church leaders. The Commission members and staff are of great help by providing expertise and motivation. The impact of my training provided a rejuvenation for my interest in getting more focus on the tasks or organization of what needs to be done in our archive as well as talking with others in attendance and determining what their focus is at their archive. I don't think the staff can do any better...they are awesome. The General Commission supports us at the local level indirectly through the website and publications. There is advice given by staff upon request. Staff seems to be very available by office phone, cell phone, and email. They also seem to be available to attended conferences and workshops upon request."
"In the Rocky Mountain conference we have found the General Commission on Archives and History web site very helpful in providing information for the conference, districts, and local churches in how to preserve documents, photos, CDs and other historical documents. Also the information on what local churches and district offices are to preserve. The GCAH web site is an important educational resource for obtaining historical insights into the United Methodist Church, as well as the help from the GCAH staff. Individuals from the conference have gained information from the GCAH staff regarding family members who were clergy, as well as information on historical churches. The educational information that is provided by the GCAH Archivist at Jurisdictional meetings is invaluable."
"I have only positive feedback to the GCAH. I never have been to one of the gathering[s] at your office but anytime I had any questions you all were there to help."
"First of all, I want to say that I have found (since becoming the West Virginia Annual Conference Chairperson of our Conference Commission in 2008) that having an active General Commission is an extremely important link to validate and celebrate the rich heritage of The United Methodist Church! In 2011, as our commission celebrated the 225th Anniversary of the Rehoboth Heritage Landmark, we were honored by [the General Secretary’s] presence and that of several other leaders from adjoining jurisdictions underlining the significance and long standing ministry of The United Methodist Church!"
"Yes, I attended the annual meeting this past September in Madison. I am much more aware of the extensive archives and how to access them than I was before. It will therefore assist me and other members of the Commission to utilize the resources of the General Commission at Drew."
"We have appreciated the information we receive by staff from the General Commission at the Western Jurisdictional level. We especially appreciated Robert Williams coming to the dedication service for the oldest church north of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest Conference and delivering the main address. One of the specific changes will be providing our Conference congregations more information on how to access information to support them as they maintain their own records and as they need to use the resources of GCAH."
The training event for Conference archivists was held in 2012 and will be held again in 2016. The comments of the archivists included:
"The time I spent at Drew for training in 2012 had two main results: it made me much more informed about my job, and it made me incredibly sad for having missed the 2008 session. Every Conference archivist should have this experience. Being exposed to the multiple ways that Conferences handle their archives was an eye opener. Understanding what resources the main archives offers has helped me in subsequent projects. Being backed by that talented team gives me much more confidence; just learning to use the online Memoir index has saved me countless hours of searching. Whenever I contact a staff member with a question, I get a prompt reply and am educated by every interaction. The attitude of the staff is something for us all to emulate (or aspire to on our better days)."
"We are now going through arranging for scanning of microfilmed and original local church records by Ancestry.com as a result of discussions held on the last day of the 2012 archivists' training event."
"The biggest impact was the realization that Cal-Pac was not collecting the minutes and program material from the Conference Program Organization and other organizations like Board of Trustees."
"It was by far the best and most applicable training that I have received. It is important to see how a well-staffed and funded national archive is “supposed” to run. Although we may not have the same resources, we learn what we should strive for. In addition, I learned about the larger denomination particularly from a historical perspective. Lastly, the opportunity to collaborate and network with archivists from other Conferences in one location; to ask what they collect and what they value and how they communicate within their organizations – PRICELESS!!! Money well spent!"