On April 6th, we received paperwork at the General Conference offices which documented the finalizing of the merger between the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference of USA & Canada, Ltd. and the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society. The completion of this paperwork with the State of Wisconsin represents the completion of a process which stretched over several years as the Historical Society’s membership carefully contemplated a request to merge originally made by the General Conference’s Ad Hoc Committee on Denominational Restructuring. Prior to the merger, the Historical Society was a separately incorporated non-profit organization in the State of Wisconsin, carrying forward an arrangement that had been in effect since the original incorporation of the Historical Society in New Jersey in 1916.
In response to the General Conference’s request, the Society took a straw poll with the membership to get a sense of their general disposition towards merger, and when the membership demonstrated openness to considering the proposal, the Historical Society convened its own committee to explore the possibility in greater depth and to make a recommendation back to the rest of the Society’s membership. After gathering the facts, the Society’s committee ultimately recommended the merger, which the members of the Society passed in consecutive years by wide margins. The General Conference, having made the initial recommendation, also approved the merger with the stipulations asked for by the Historical Society.
As a result of the merger, the work of preserving and promoting Seventh Day Baptist history is now the work of the Council on History of the SDB General Conference, with the former Directors of the Historical Society becoming the new members of the Council on History. Members of the Historical Society will see their memberships converted into supporter categories of the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Library and Archives, and will maintain all of the rights and privileges they held previously with the Society, excepting the right to vote directly on history business. Election of new members of the Council on History will now take place at the yearly meetings of the General Conference.
The Historical Society carried on the work of preserving and promoting Seventh Day Baptist history for 100 years, having started in 1916. At this year’s General Conference meetings in Houghton, NY, there will be a celebration of the Historical Society’s successful century of ministry on Sabbath afternoon. Meanwhile, the new Council on History continues to promote the Centennial Fund, a capital funds campaign meant to increase the permanent endowment for history work among Seventh Day Baptists. The first meeting of the Council on History will take place at the SDB Center in Janesville, WI on the weekend of April 30-May 1. Please be in prayer as the members of the Council continue to guide the future work of preserving our shared past.