The Rev. Joseph Wilson III has donated $5,000 to Claflin to begin an African American Clergy Collection archival program at the University.
The collection, which will be housed in the H.V. Manning Library on campus, is part of the African American Heritage Program of the African American Methodist Heritage Center (AAMHC), an affiliate of the United Methodist Church.
“The center is dedicated to the enhancement, advancement, collection and archival of materials for African Americans in the United Methodist Church,” said Rev. Wilson, a member of the AAMHC board. “This is the seed money to bring the archival effort to South Carolina through Claflin.”
The national board has a satellite site at Dillard University in New Orleans, La., and partners with other universities and organizations across the country to conduct various seminars on the subject. The Claflin site will be the first in the South Carolina. Claflin is also affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
“Claflin University is thrilled to be a part of such a meaningful project,” President Henry N. Tisdale said. “So much of the African American Methodist history is already here at this University, and we are proud to be the place where these artifacts representing the historical contributions of these individuals will reside.”
The donation will go toward purchasing supplies, display cases and shelving for historic documents about African American Methodists from South Carolina, as well as to purchase framed portraits of Methodist Bishops Joseph Benjamin Bethea, Ernest W. Newman and James Samuel Thomas – all alumni of Claflin University.
The African American Methodist Heritage Center, Inc. is an offspring of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Inc. (BMCR). Its purpose is to preserve, protect and promote the great stories and struggles of African Americans who have been a part of Methodism since its inception in the 1700s. The center’s purpose is to collect materials, artifacts, pictures and memorabilia from individuals, local churches and institutions for possible research and displays.
The Heritage Center “celebrates telling the stories of the struggles and victories of African Americans called to enhance the mission and ministry of the denomination,” the organization’s mission states. “AAMHC seeks to creatively develop and disseminate, through print and electronic media, discoveries that have brought us thus far on the way. The collections reveal God at work in the lives of God’s people and offer guidance for the future.”
Donations are being accepted to assist in finalizing the effort, Wilson said. Gifts should be sent to Claflin University in care of Rev. Whittaker V. Middleton, vice president for Institutional Advancement, 400 Magnolia St., Orangeburg, SC 29115. For more information about AAMHC, visit http://aamhc-umc.org.