The Friends of the World Methodist Museum gathered for their annual banquet on Friday, the 25th of August, at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina (USA). Celebrating 61 years since the opening of the museum, Director, Jackie Bolden, shared with the Friends the many things that had occurred since the group had last gathered. One of the most notable events of the year included the museum’s acquisition of two major exhibits. In January, the Luton Pulpit on loan from Mr. Matthew Kilgore, a private collector from New York, was unveiled. The pulpit was used by John Wesley, Francis Asbury, and Adam Clark, among other early Methodist preachers.
Additionally, a new exhibit opened on Bishop Joshua Soule and his wife Sara Allen. Bishop Soule was an early leader in The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and penned its founding constitution. Transcribed letters from Bishop Soule’s journeys to California as well as portraits of the couple are on display.
In the Susanna Wesley Garden, weddings, baptisms, devotional and memorial services were held, and the many visitors to Lake Junaluska were able to enjoy the rejuvenating space. A new walkway is under construction in the upper garden to make the pavilion more accessible for visitors and events.
Following the year’s activities, Jackie shared greetings from General Secretary Ivan Abrahams, and former chairperson Mrs. Francis Alguire. Mr. Scott Taylor, Director of Music Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Waynesville, North Carolina, shared a time of special folk, gospel and contemporary music on a Wesleyan theme, and Friends President Don Rankin recognized those who were going off the board.
Greenwaldt Guest Speaker
Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, former General Secretary of The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship (GBOD), gave the address at the banquet, sharing her experiences and memories of Methodism throughout her life and travels. She reminisced of childhood visits to the World Methodist Museum, which made an impact on her life at an early age, and told of discovering how the Methodist people have been acting in the world throughout history, connecting with others, and being the hands and feet of God.
During her college years, she recalled sharing the liturgy in a Spanish-speaking church worship service while on a mission trip, which helped her to realize that faith crosses language barriers. “Church is not a static organization,” she said. “We were connected by our ancestors of faith, by Jesus and the message of the Gospel – One faith.” During her time as General Secretary of GBOD, Rev. Greenwaldt attended several World Methodist Conferences in various parts of the world. Through these experiences, she realized that as Methodists “we have a story to tell the nations,” and that spreading the Gospel is “not just contained locally but meant to get out to the world!” While many happy, pleasant memories were shared, Rev. Greenwaldt also talked about meeting people who had survived war, suppression, poverty and illness. When recalling an encounter as a child with a missionary from Japan who had witnessed the effects of the nuclear bombings at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, she said “he called us as a people – young, old and in between – to be peacemakers, to pray and work for peace, and to make sure ‘it never happens again.'” After meeting with South African Bishop Mvume Dandala, she recounts his very frank advice, “If people believe you care about their whole person, they will trust you with their soul.” She challenged those present to be inspired by those stories shared, as well as their own, and to receive the words of Jesus’ Great Commandment, and those of John Wesley that “The World is My Parish.” But, she said, you do not need to do it alone because it is not just the job of one. All Methodists can be witnesses throughout the world, telling the stories of faith so that all may experience the love of God.
About the World Methodist Museum
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, the World Methodist Museum is home to one of the largest collections of artifacts from the early days of Methodism. History comes to life as the story of Methodism unfolds within the walls of the Museum. Erected in 1956, the museum was the generous gift of American Methodists to the World Methodist Council. Dr. Elmer T. Clark, the first general secretary of the World Methodist Council, was also secretary of the Association of Methodist Historical Societies. He assembled a lifetime collection of Staffordshire pottery, Methodist primitives, commemoratives, and a wealth of original autographs and manuscripts from the earliest beginnings of the Methodist Movement in England. The Clark Collection of Wesleyana was housed in the central hall. Dr. Lee F. Tuttle, Clark’s successor, continued to add to the Museum. He made his own unique contribution by creating the beautiful Susanna Wesley Garden adjacent to the headquarters building to honor the mother of the Wesleys. On July 16, 1983, the renewed and expanded World Methodist Museum was dedicated. Shortly thereafter a support organization, Friends of the World Methodist Museum was formed. The member’s annual gifts have enabled the purchase of rare paintings, significant historical Methodist findings, and artifacts from the time of Jesus.