Historical Commission Announces Conn Historical Writing Award Winners

Cleveland, TN–The Church of God Historical Commission recently announced the winners of the Charles W. Conn Historical Writing Award. The 2018-2020 award winners are Lyle Esau for his book, Reflections: The History of International Bible College [Canada] (Tellwell Talent, 2019), and to Dr. Debbie Bilbo Murray for her article-length chapter, “A Life Around Lee” in High Callings: Vocational Narratives of Lee University Faculty at the Century Mark (Cleveland, TN: Lee University Press, 2018).

Mr. Esau is a former Professor of Old Testament at International Bible College, where he taught Bible and Church History for many years. International Bible College was founded in Consul, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1936 and provided ministerial training to hundreds of students before it closed in 2012. Mr. Esau’s book provides an extensive and compelling history of the school and its role in the development of the Church of God in Canada.

Dr. Murray currently serves Lee University as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. A member of the Lee faculty since 1980, she holds the rank of Distinguished Professor of Education and previously served as dean of the Helen Devos College of Education. She is a longtime Cleveland resident and a graduate of Lee. Murray’s chapter was published in a collection of essays written by Lee faculty members for the university’s Centennial and chronicles her unique connection to Lee from her childhood, when her father, Dr. Jimmy Bilbo, was a student and later taught at Lee for 35 years, to her own journey as a student, faculty member, and administrator.

The Church of God International Executive Council created the Charles W. Conn Historical Writing Award in 2002 to honor long-time Church of God author and historian Dr. Charles W. Conn, who penned his official history of the Church of God in 1955. When Like a Mighty Army was revised in 1977, the Executive Council designated Conn as Church Historian. Conn revised his book again in 1996, and Pathway Press released a special tribute edition in 2008.

The Historical Commission selects both a book and an article each General Assembly period to receive the writing award and to encourage the writing and publication of books and articles related to the heritage and history of the Church of God.

Dr. Floyd D. Carey and Dr. James E. Cossey serve as co-chairs of the Historical Commission, and Assistant General Overseer J. David Stephens is the Executive Committee liaison. The Conn Writing Award Committee consists of Dr. Louis F. Morgan (chair), Dr. David G. Roebuck (Church Historian), and Lance Colkmire. Other members of the Historical Commission are Dr. James M. Beaty, Esdras Betancourt, Dr. J.B. Douglas LeRoy, Wanda T. LeRoy, Gene Mills, Christopher Moree, C.C. Pratt, Phyllis Thompson, Joel Trammell, and Hoyt E. Stone.

(Submitted by Louis F. Morgan, Conn Award Committee Chair)

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