Charles W. Conn
Dr. David G. Roebuck
I have just returned from the funeral of a great man, Charles W. Conn. Like so many people, I first became aware of Dr. Conn in the pages of his books. My father attended Lee College when I was nine, and while Dr. Charles Conn was president. Lee College textbooks, including Like a Mighty Army, made their way into our home. As a teenager who loved history and as a Church of God PK studying to get certificates in the Church Training Course program, they later became part of my life. In those books Charles Conn introduced me to Church of God history and to rich Bible study.
I more formally met Dr. Conn in Nashville, Tennessee, as an adult. Along with his son Jeff, I was a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Conn came to preach at the Broadmoor Church of God, and we had the first of many conversations about Church of God history. Something I said in that conversation got his attention, and he became a mentor of mine. In 1991 I came to Lee as a reference assistant in Squires Library and had the privilege of helping with some of the research on the “definitive edition” of Like a Mighty Army. Then in 1997 I became director of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center, where Dr. Conn kept an office and we often talked.
Not long after I was designated as Church of God historian in 2004, I penned the following words: “It is an extraordinary honor to follow in the footsteps of writers such as A.J. Tomlinson, E.L. Simmons, and Charles W. Conn in chronicling the history of the Church of God. The earliest known history of our movement was penned by A.J. Tomlinson in his book The Last Great Conflict and published in 1913. In 1938, E.L. Simmons wrote the first comprehensive history of the Church of God. Simmons’ account was simply titled History of the Church of God and advanced the story with new material and the addition of photographs. Yet, it was Charles W. Conn, a gifted writer, astute observer, and careful chronicler who has done more than any other person to record what God has done throughout our history.”
Thank you Dr. Conn for all you did to preserve our Church of God heritage.