After receiving word that Bridwell Library had been named the recipient of the collections of the recently closed World Methodist Council Museum, Dean Craig Hill and Anthony Elia, Director of Bridwell Library, traveled to the museum in Lake Junaluska, N.C., on April 15 to meet with the museum staff and to review the collection. They were joined by the World Council Museum Friends Board of Directors for a ceremony marking the transition. Outgoing Museum President Terry Bevill delivered a presentation and introduced Hill and Elia, who each spoke to the group from Wesley’s own travelling pulpit.
“At key moments of my life, I’ve felt John Wesley looking over my shoulder, but never more than today,” Dean Hill told the gathering. He then spoke about the distinctiveness and importance of Wesleyan theology, and the new opportunities for passing on this vital legacy created by this convergence of likeminded institutions.
After reviewing several proposals, the Archival Committee chose Bridwell Library to acquire the collection, based on Bridwell’s ability to preserve, curate, and display materials comprehensively and to engage a broad public. The World Methodist Council (WMC) Archival Committee announced the decision on April 1; the entire collection will be given and transferred to Bridwell Library at SMU by May 15.
The World Methodist Museum was founded in 1956 and closed in early 2021. The Museum holds one of the world’s largest collections of historical items related to John Wesley, founder of Methodism. The World Methodist Council, established in 1881, is a global consortium of Methodism that includes dozens of Methodist denominations from Cuba to Korea, Mexico to Bangladesh, and everywhere in between.
“We are honored to be chosen as the recipient of the collections and will continue to oversee and curate these items with the highest quality and standards,” said Elia.
“All who care about this collection can be confident that its future impact for faithful ministry in the Wesleyan tradition is assured,” said Robert Williams, Retired General Secretary of the United Methodist Church General Commission on Archives and History, who assisted with the deaccessioning of the museum.