Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holiday Spotlight: The Wesley Collection

In light of the Thanksgiving spirit here on campus, Suber Archives & Special Collections at Lewis Library is excited to spotlight the Wesley Collection. LaGrange College has been associated with the Methodist Church throughout the institution's long history, since it's founding in 1831, and is very proud to house such an impressive collection of John Wesley related historical objects in the library's archives area.

John Wesley was born in 1703 in Epworth, England where his father, Samuel, was rector. His mother, Susanna Wesley, was herself a woman of accomplishment. When John was three years old the rectory caught fire and although he was rescued he considered himself, “a brand plucked from the burning.” As a cleric of the Church of England and a Christian theologian, Wesley is largely credited along with his brother (Charles Wesley) as founding the Methodist movement. As a result, Methodism is was a highly successful evangelical movement that originated in the United Kingdom and encouraged people to personally experience Jesus Christ. Wesley's teachings, better known as Wesleyanism, "provided the seeds for both the modern Methodist movement, the Holiness movement, Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement, and Neo-charismatic churches, which encompass numerous denominations across the world."

The Wesley Collection at Lewis Library is just one of multiple permanent collections housed in Suber Archives & Special Collections on the bottom floor of the library. Items from the Wesley collection include a variety of figurines, portraits, and an impressive and interesting collection of love feast plates.

The story behind the love feast plates began when John Wesley visited Savannah, GA. There he met the Moravians, who impressed him greatly with their calm during a storm at sea. Upon returning to England in 1783, Wesley participated in a Moravian Love Feast, and proceeded to introduce the concept to the Methodists a year later.
The Love Feast celebrates the birth of Christ through scripture reading and prayer, the singing of hymns, the lighting of candles, and the serving of Moravian bread and coffee during which these plates were used. The saying on many of the Love Feast plates is, “The best of all is, God is with us." These words have been purported to be the last words spoken by John Wesley on his deathbed.

Enjoy the following slide presentation, created by archives and special collections assistant Patricia Barrett. The presentation displays many of the items from the Wesley Collection, and includes musical accompaniment by the Sons of Lafayette, an all male choir from LaGrange, GA. The recording is of a live performance of "All That Hath Life and Breath Praise Ye the Lord", which was composed by Rene Clausen (b. 1953) who adapted the text from Psalm 96. This live recording was captured during the choir's 2011 appearance in Cornwall, England.

For more information about the Wesley Collection, visit the new Suber Archives & Special Collections online guide. For more information about the history of the college, visit LaGrange College's website here, or enjoy a pictorial timeline here. For more information about all things John Wesley, visit the following links:

*This blog post was co-authored by Patricia Barrett and Rachel Evans. Images in the presentation above are of items from Lewis Library's Wesley Collection, and were photographed by Patricia Barrett on behalf of Suber Archives & Special Collections. Information in this post was gathered from items and documents in the Wesley Collection, in addition to online sources including the Biography of John Wesley, courtesy of Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

No comments:

Post a Comment