New £1.4m museum tells story of Methodism

(Photo: Mike Peel)
Wesley's Chapel is home to the new Museum of Methodism

A new museum is to be opened in London telling the story of Methodism and its enormous influence in Britain and the world.

The Museum of Methodism is situated in the crypt of Wesley's Chapel, which has been transformed by architects John McAslan & Partners and designers Barker Langham, who worked on King's Cross station and the Royal Opera House.

The story of Methodism is brought to life by an audio visual presentation narrated by BBC presenter Huw Edwards.

"This is a great project and I'm delighted to be associated with it," he said.

Tablet computers will make it possible for visitors to access significant archival documents like John Wesley's sermons and Charles Wesley's hymns.

There will be three permanent exhibitions at the museum, including one on John Wesley's conversion.  His Field Bible is one of the many objects that will be on display.

The two other exhibitions look at the history of Wesley Chapel and John Wesley's visionary organisational system of societies, classes and bands.

Three more exhibitions are due to open in the autumn looking at the spread of Methodism around the world, the charitable work carried out by Methodists over the years, and the way John Wesley exploited advances in printing and roads to share the gospel.

The Reverend Leslie Griffiths, minister in charge of Wesley's Chapel and the Museum of Methodism hopes people beyond the Methodist Church will be inspired by its story.

"Wesley's Chapel is to the 70 million Methodists spread around the world what Canterbury Cathedral is to Anglicans and the Vatican to Roman Catholics," he said.

"Our new museum will release a compelling story from its chronological and denominational wraps and allow something of the genius and power which brought it to birth to touch and inspire our contemporary world.

"And that's why we've turned to world-renowned experts to advise, co-ordinate, design and build this amazingly beautiful facility."

The official opening on Saturday is being joined by Bishop Sundo Kim, the founder Kwanglim Methodist Church in South Korea, which donated £630,000 to the project.

"Methodism didn't arrive in Korea until 1885 - the latest wave of a spiritual tide that began its rise in London over a hundred years before that," he said.

"There's a simple reason why we've invested seriously in this new museum. The story it tells of the power and the grace of God released through the ministry of John and Charles Wesley is our story too. It's what shaped our identity and challenges us to go on doing God's work in our own day."

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