2015 John Wesley’s Chest-on-Chest: World Methodist Museum Receives Major Acquisition

The World Methodist Museum at Lake Junaluska is believed to have the single largest collection of Wesley artifacts of any institution, and on Sunday, 20 September, it unveiled another major item: a chest on chest that belonged to the Most Rev. John Wesley was gifted to the Museum.

Approximately 4’ x 6’ (approx. 122 cm x 183 cm), this imposing piece was given by Sue McCrory of San Antonio, Texas, in memoriam to its former owner, the late Dr. Pearl L. Zink. A faded and fragile paper pasted in a top drawer explains that it was owned by Wesley, and later by Lord Kitchener. History shows that one of the Kitcheners was friends of one of Charles Wesley’s son.

Dr. Zink died in 2008, but had asked Mrs. McCrory to “find a permanent home for this very special piece. We decided that should be with the Methodist Church, and I vowed to make this happen,” a letter from Mrs. McCrory reads. The letter was read aloud in its entirety at the unveiling. “To conclude, our precious chest is exactly where it should be. I know it will be cherished. Both my grandmother and Pearl must be singing in heaven, for both their wishes have been fulfilled. I told Jackie [Bolden], someone was whispering in my ear the day I contacted the Museum. I would like to think so, perhaps an ancestor, my grandmother or Pearl.” Mrs. McCrory said her grandmother was from North Carolina and always spoke of it fondly and lovingly. She said Haywood County roots include the Fines Creek area and Nolands, Russells, Rheas, Rogers, Milners and others.

At the special Sept. 20 unveiling ceremony, attended by a standing-only crowd in the Museum, the furniture was unveiled with special remarks by World Methodist Council General Secretary Bishop Ivan Abrahams. He thanked those involved in making this possible. He also stated that the Museum’s valuable content needs to be available to more people throughout the world and an effort is being made to allow this through video and web, as well as to make the Museum more interactive to those visiting in person.

The Friends of the Museum paid for the moving costs and Friends President, the Rev. Dr. Donald Rankin, welcomed those attending the event. Also on the program were the Rev. Dr. Jim Gilland, Museum Director Jackie Bolden, harpist Balfour Knight and vocalists Susan Gaddy and Carol Lynn Knight.

Since Wesley was known for “scanty but choice” furniture, according to a former Warden of the Old Rectory in England, attendees were asked to surmise what Wesley might have kept in the chest. Answers included an outfit for himself in the top and two to be given away in the bottom; tracts and maps; Bibles, communication with other religious groups; sermons he was working to complete; Charles Wesley’s early book of hymns and so forth. “It seems no one thought it would be full of a personal wardrobe as might be the case today since people in the 1700’s had very few sets of clothes, no matter where they were in the world or their status,” Bolden commented.

The Museum is free and open to the public Tuesday through Saturday year-round from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Special groups are also welcome at other hours by appointment by calling (828) 456-7242 or emailing jbolden@worldmethodistcouncil.org. Find out more about the museum at methodistmuseum.org.

Hurst Watercolor Collections

John Wesley – A Pictorial Journey begins and ends in Epworth, the boyhood home of Wesley.  The book takes in many notable as well as lesser-known locations visited by the early preachers of Methodism.  The World Methodist Museum offers these books for sale and also features two rooms which are referred to as the Hurst Gallery highlighting many watercolor paintings by acclaimed artist John Hurst and author of the book.  Entry to the Museum and gallery is free and open to the public. Visit beautiful Lake Junaluska and the Museum year around.

Portraits of World Methodist Council Officers

Portraits of Past Chairpersons and General Secretaries of the World Methodist Council are on the display throughout the Museum. These officers are elected every five years at the World Methodist Conference.

Frank O. Salisbury Portraits

The World Methodist Museum houses portraits of John Wesley, as well as many of the other pioneers of Methodism, by renowned British artist Frank O. Salisbury.

Trunk Used by Bishop Francis Asbury

After Bishop Francis Asbury’s death in 1816 this trunk was given to Rev. Daniel Asbury, then a presiding elder in the South Carolina Conference. The trunk is lined with a newspaper dated November 10, 1814.

Death Mask of John Wesley

The original Death Mask of John Wesley is housed in the Osborn Collection at Drew University. This copy is one of three made from the original. The other two are in Wesley’s Chapel, London and Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas USA.

Authenticated Lock of Wesley’s Hair

The World Methodist Museum houses two authenticated locks of John Wesley’s hair.

A Christian Library – First Edition

Among his many writings, John Wesley edited and abridged a number of devotional classics and republished them in what he called A Christian Library

These “Extracts from and Abridgments of the Choicest Pieces of Practical Divinity Which Have Been Published in the English Tongue,” as Wesley subtitled them, were first published in 50 volumes in 1750. The World Methodist Museum houses the First Edition of all 50 volumes.

John Wesley’s Travelling Pulpit

This Traveling Pulpit was used by John Wesley at two known outdoor preaching points in London. The pulpit was first kept in the West Street Chapel in Piccadilly and moved outdoors for use near Seven Dials. Later is was kept at the Old Foundry where it was use in the Moorfields nearby. The “one-of-a-kind” pulpit was discovered in the crypt of Wesley’s Chapel during the restoration in the 1970s and given to the World Methodist Council by the Methodist Conference in Great Britain.

Aldersgate Memorial Replica

The John Wesley’s Conversion Place Memorial in London is located above Aldersgate Street, near the entrance to The Museum of London, by the line of Nettleton Court. Here the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, had his well-known heartwarming experience on May 24, 1738. On its face without comment is John Wesley’s own account of the day, Wednesday, May 24, 1738,

“I think it was about five this morning, that I opened my Testament on these words, ‘Thou are not far from the kingdom of God,’ In the afternoon I was asked to go to St. Paul’s. The anthem was, ‘Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice…’ “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my Heart strangely warm’d. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for Salvation: And an Assurance was given to me, That He had taken away my Sins, even mine, and saved me from the Law of Sin and Death.”

The London Conversion Place Memorial was created by British Methodist layman and architect, Martin Ludlow. This quarter-sized copy was commissioned by Jimmy Davis and given to the Museum to honor his wife, Fleeta.  

Original Beam from Epworth Fire

The Old Rectory at Epworth, constructed in 1696, was destroyed by fire in 1709. This charred beam was discovered under the present house at the time the Old Rectory was purchased and restored by the World Methodist Council in 1956.

Widow’s Mite No. 6

“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in her two mites. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)

The Christian lesson of the widow’s mites, as relayed in Luke (21:1-4) and Mark (12:41-44), is an enduring testament to the value of faith. A destitute widow has only a few mites to her name, and those she gave selflessly as her donation to the Temple. (Mites were ancient pennies, fairly worthless at the time). Jesus comments that her modest gift was worth more than the ostentatious contributions of the wealthy, for her mites represented all that she had. This virtuous woman had demonstrated true Christian faith in God — she could not know from where her next meal would come, but she believed that He would provide for her.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things (food, clothes, all material needs) will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

A coin that we know as the Widow’s Mite No. 6 is on display in the World Methodist Museum as part of our Holy Land exhibit.