Surely every president of the John Whitmer Historical Association has been humbled by the responsibilities of this leadership position. With that in mind, we must thank all those who have gone before as leaders of JWHA—the founders, the program chairs and presidents, the board members, the executive directors, and the Journal editors. The cumulative leadership of JWHA has consistently moved us to be better—better scholars, better colleagues, better evaluators, better friends. This results in a rich, challenging and satisfying experience for both presenters and attendees. After all, our professional and lay scholars are at JWHA conferences to share their interests and research with you and me.
Personally, I spent several years as an enthusiastic, reasonably intelligent student, if you will, at JWHA conferences. Then someone persuaded me to get involved, first as executive director with my very capable husband, Bill, and then as a presenter. What an appreciation these experiences gave me for the crazy amount of work Cheryle Grinter does as our professional executive director. We are no longer a small, exclusive history club. We are a respected association of presenters who do our homework.
At the same time, we are a sincerely friendly and respectful group of scholars whose research sometimes takes us to different conclusions. Not a conference goes by that several attendees tell me this is why they keep coming back. As I write this I think of Carl Mesle’s style of bringing together divergent folks with mutual interests so that they get to know and like one another, thus making them more effective at examining issues and sharing experiences.
So, thank you to Rachel Killebrew and her committee for pulling off a riveting program and to Cheryle for orchestrating all the pieces with the conference center and hotel. Thank you, too, to Jill Brim, our president elect, for facilitating our playtime, the result of which is not to be underestimated. (See Carl Mesle, above.) Her efforts in other matters have immersed her in all things John Whitmer more quickly than most new members experience. We are delighted she has accepted more public leadership responsibilities. You will be, too.
My next challenge, along with the nominating committee, is to continue that level of leadership. The past two conferences have been larger than usual. Let’s welcome to our membership and to our conferences all who are captivated by church history while simultaneously maintaining a camaraderie unique to us.