Reflections on the Methodist Historical Pie: Re-engaging the Puzzle of American Methodism

Christopher H. Evans



In 1994, Nathan Hatch challenged historians to conduct more research on American Methodism, engaging what Hatch called “the Puzzle of American Methodism.” This article reviews significant developments in American Methodist historical scholarship since 1994, culminating in two recent publications: The Methodist Experience in America by Russell Richey, Kenneth Rowe, and Jean Miller Schmidt, and The Cambridge Companion to American Methodism edited by Jason Vickers.  These two works underscore the creative historical scholarship on American Methodism that has been written over the past twenty years; they also provide an opportunity to reassess the current state of American Methodist scholarship-- what the author refers to as the “Methodist Historical Pie.” This essay explores possible themes that might characterize future historical writing on American Methodism and addresses questions of how the study of American Methodist history can be formative for ministry in The United Methodist Church.


American Methodism; United Methodist Church

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