Genealogy Resources

Finding Methodist Church Records

Finding Methodist Church Records to Use in Genealogy Research

Church records provide important information and clues about your ancestors.  Last week, we discussed finding Baptist Church Records with an emphasis on North Carolina records.

Today Let’s Focus on Finding Methodist Church Records.

1. Like many denominations, the Methodist church evolved over time into what it is today.  Knowing the history of the church and its branches will help the researcher in finding the correct databases to search. This is not unlike the concept of knowing a state’s county formation over time.  Just because an area’s name changed (or a denomination’s name changed) does not indicate your ancestor moved (or changed denominations).  These events and changes simply indicate what records for specific time periods exist. The Historical Society of the United Methodist Church (UMC) provides a great history of the UMC.

Your takeaway? Know the history of the Methodists.

2. Was your ancestor an ordained minister?  A Circuit Rider?  If so, then  check for him in The Circuit Rider Database.   Not all circuit riders were officially ordained ministers. If your ancestor was not ordained, then his records will not appear in the database.

3. Baptism, Marriage and church membership records were kept by the local church.  If you know where your ancestor attended church, request their records there.  If your ancestor’s church no longer exists or perhaps merged with another church, the records would be kept by the new church.  If the church ceased to exist, then the church records would have been transferred to the annual conference archives (regional).  County historical societies may also have copies of local church histories.  Be sure to check for these as well.

4. The General Commission on Archives and History  (GCAH) provides information on the United Methodist Church both past and present in a variety of locations.  Resource links, directories, and finding aids to publications  can all be found there.

5. Duke University in Durham, NC has a significant Methodist influence in its history. While officially non-denominational, Duke University continues to have a supportive relationship with the Methodist church.  The Rubenstein Library at Duke University houses records pertaining to the Methodist Church in North Carolina and its leaders.  The catalog is searchable online.

6. Methodist Periodicals can also provide information about your Methodist ancestors.  The Duke Divinity School Library as well as The Rubenstein Library house various Methodist periodicals. The GCAH mentioned in #4 houses Methodist periodicals as well.

While these resources will help you find your North Carolina Methodist ancestors,  many of these resources are not exclusively North Carolina based. Regardless of the location of your Methodist ancestors, the research process will be the same.  To find Methodist records unique to your specific location needs, search for ” Methodist Church records [YOUR Location]”.

 Have you used Methodist records in your genealogy research?

Leave a comment below. I would love to hear your story.

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