Baylor Scholar Is Honored by Methodist Historians

Sept. 16, 2013
meltonJ. Gordon Melton, Ph.D.

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WACO, Texas (Sept. 16, 2013) -- J. Gordon Melton, Ph.D., the Distinguished Professor of American Religious History of Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion, has been honored with the Distinguished Service Award by The General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church.

The award, which recognizes Melton's work on Methodist historical research and writings, was presented at the commission's annual meeting at Drew University.

Varied examples of Melton's writings were cited by Cornish Rogers, Ph.D., of the School of Theology at Claremont (Calif.) in introducing Melton and presenting the award, including the Baylor scholar's recent book, A Will to Choose: The Origins of African American Methodism (2006). The book is a pioneering work on the antebellum rise of the several branches of African-American Methodists during the pre-Civil War era.

Melton was educated at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Northwestern University and has authored more than 35 books on American religious history, including the Encyclopedia of American Religions (8th edition, 2009) and the Encyclopedia of African American Religion (1993).

In accepting the award, Melton noted that while his research has wandered over the whole of American religion, his first books were on Methodism, a topic to which he repeatedly returned.

The General Commission on Archives and History gives its Distinguished Service Award periodically to scholars that have made substantial contribution to furthering church history, Methodist historical studies in particular.


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Launched in August 2004, the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) exists to initiate, support and conduct research on religion, involving scholars and projects spanning the intellectual spectrum: history, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, political science, epidemiology, theology and religious studies. The institute's mandate extends to all religions, everywhere, and throughout history, and embraces the study of religious effects on prosocial behavior, family life, population health, economic development and social conflict. While always striving for appropriate scientific objectivity, ISR scholars treat religion with the respect that sacred matters require and deserve.

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