Since growing up in England more years ago than I wish to remember, I have always been interested in history—and it was one of the subjects I was reasonably good at in school. And growing up in an RLDS Church family naturally caused me to be interested in the history of the movement birthed by Joseph Smith Jr. in the 1830s. I recall how I relished Alma Blair’s class on Latter Day Saint history that I took as a freshman at Graceland College (now University) over fifty years ago, although I think I only got a C in the course.
My introduction to JWHA came a few years after I started to work in the Christian Education Department at the RLDS Church (now Community of Christ) headquarters in 1971. I do not claim to be a founding member, but I did attend a number of the early meetings. I served on the editorial committee for the first five issues of the JWHA Journal (1981–1865) and as editor for 1986 and 1987. After a number of years of nonattendance, I resumed regular participation about ten years ago, about the time I began to work with church historian Mark Scherer on his The Journey of a People trilogy, for which I served as editor and project manager following my retirement from church employment.
Enough about me! The rest is about our Association that I have come to enjoy being part of. From the annual conference with its varied and interesting program to the semi-annual Journal and three-times-a-year Newsletter, members have access to important new scholarship and are kept up to date with the comings and goings of the Association. The robust offerings of John Whitmer Books provide additional ways for interested readers to explore new topics or additional findings in areas in which they are already informed.
Even a relatively small organization like JWHA (we have a book membership of 325) does not run smoothly without the involvement of a number of people who assume a variety of tasks. I will not list them all here as their names appear elsewhere in this Newsletter. But I will mention one. This is the JWHA executive director, Cheryle Grinter. Presidents and other officers serve for a limited time, so the Association needs someone to keep us all on task. During this past year as I served as program chair for the 2016 conference, I was continually thankful for Cheryle’s gentle reminders of what I and my able committee needed to do next. I know I will continue to benefit from her guidance during this year as I serve as your president.
Thank you all who support JWHA through attendance at meetings, membership fees, purchase of books, donations, and in other important ways. I challenge each of you to identify persons you know and invite them to join JWHA and plan to attend next year’s conference in Nauvoo, September 21–24, 2017.
Peter Judd, JWHA president