JWHA recently conducted a survey, in preparation for our 50th anniversary and celebration, to help shape the future of JWHA. We received 64 responses, or a 26% response rate (which is actually pretty good). Thank you to all who responded.

Some themes emerged as to why you joined. Many came into JWHA because of personal networks, or through connections with MHA. Please consider inviting a friend who might be interested in church history.

When asked about our benefits, the JWHA Journal ranked highly, followed by the annual conference. When the membership was asked if they were pleased with the JWHA Journal, an overwhelming 63 out of 64 said “yes.”

Restoration Studies was a little more complicated. When asked about the relationship between JWHA and Restoration Studies, with a basic YES/NO question, 59 said “yes” and 5 said “no.” Still, in the comments on where we could improve on this relationship, some of you voiced concerns with muddying history and theology. In the opposing camp, another respondent said not to change anything, that “this is one of the great strengths of the organization.” Clearly, further discussion is needed here.

As to our anniversary celebration, many asked us to thank the founders and past presidents. Others want us to highlight our organizational history overall and the best scholarship that has come out of JWHA. In fact, there were so many good ideas offered that we need to sit down and really digest them.

You were supportive of an endowment to support the future of JWHA. You were also supportive of continuing John Whitmer Books, with a large percentage supporting publishing books on any Restoration topic.

Respondents overwhelming said that JWHA was meeting their needs but had cautions. Like my fifth-grade teacher, you weren’t shy in letting us know where we need to improve. I suppose it’s built into the DNA of Reorganites to fear a “Mormon takeover,” but more than one of you voiced it; yet others praised the ecumenical cooperation between prairie and mountain saints. As someone who represents both traditions in various ways, I’m optimistic about the future but mindful of our objective to “create and encourage interest in Latter Day Saint history, Restoration Studies, especially the history of the Community of Christ.”

You had some great tips for recruiting and outreach. We’re taking these seriously. And your vision for the future is to honor who we are today and have been in the past, while inviting new scholars into our midst and finding new venues; we’re taking that seriously, too.

Thank you to all of you who participated. It’s our members who make John Whitmer the amazing organization that it is. We appreciate all of you.

— Seth Bryant