Dr. Ashley Boggan D., general secretary of the General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH) announced new initiatives today to support The United Methodist Church’s Ministry of Memory: David Worthington, former Global Ambassador at John Wesley’s New Room in Bristol, England, has been appointed to the new position of Global Ambassador of Methodist Heritage Sites for The UMC in order to promote and preserve the significant Methodist sites throughout the world; and the American Methodist Pilgrimage, set for a soft launch in October 2024, visits sites important to the early formation of Methodism in America.

“The United Methodist Church’s history is teeming with brick and mortar buildings that, if they could talk, would tell the rich stories of our denomination. At the General Commission of Archives and History, our role is to promote and preserve those stories,” Boggan explained. “Both of these new initiatives will ensure that the stories that are vital to our heritage will continue to be communicated and experienced in person.”

Worthington’s role as Global Ambassador, a joint venture between GCAH and Educational Opportunities (the largest provider of Wesley Heritage Tours to England), involves a combination of fundraising, public speaking, tour hosting, research, and mission engagement activities for Methodist sites worldwide.

 “There is no better Global Ambassador for Methodist Sites than David Worthington,” Boggan says. “Through his previous role at the oldest Methodist building in the world, John Wesley’s New Room, David is already well known to many members of The UMC, including those at a number of its respective Heritage Landmarks. Since 2010, David has spoken at numerous United Methodist churches, conferences, heritage sites and seminaries and has earned the reputation as an engaging storyteller. We are delighted to appoint David to this important position.”

“We are excited at Educational Opportunities Tours (EO) to partner with the General Commission on Archives and History on funding a position for a Global Ambassador of Methodist Heritage sites, says James E. Ridgway, president and CEO, Educational Opportunities Tours, Inc. “As an organization, we feel it is extremely important to maintain and understand our Wesleyan roots in the U.K. and the United States and there is no more passionate person about the history of British Methodism than David Worthington.  His work to upgrade and enhance the New Room in Bristol over a decade is unparalleled amongst Wesleyan sites worldwide, and we need his vision and passion to enhance our Wesleyan experiences globally.”

‘It’s a real privilege to be appointed to this role at this significant moment in the history of The UMC and I’m very excited at the prospect of working with GCAH, EO and the wider church,” Worthington said. “I believe it is vital for the future development of The UMC that we understand our Methodist Heritage story as it is the foundation stone on which our church was built. Our heritage is deeply rooted in our identity as Methodists and we have the opportunity, at this critical time, to reaffirm our calling as disciples of Jesus by learning about our past in order to create a better future. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey together.”

The American Methodist Pilgrimage, which opens to the public sometime in 2025, is scheduled to visit key sites over a one-week period. Pilgrims will travel by tour bus with stops including John Street United Methodist Church in New York City, Historic St. George’s United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, Barratt’s Chapel in Delaware, Old Otterbein United Methodist Church Baltimore and the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C. – to just name a few.

“The exciting part of American Methodism is that it follows the same trajectory as our nation, grappling with many of the same issues as we moved from a group of colonies to a young nation that evolved from primarily rural to urban settings,” Boggan explains. “When we visit some of the historical Methodist sites, we better understand how churches and Methodists across these centuries not only grew our denomination but also impacted movements within our nation. Traveling through the footsteps (and horseshoes) of Bishop Francis Asbury, we’ll also travel alongside these early Methodists as they struggled with key questions of witness and structure that are still relevant today.”

The American Methodist Pilgrimage is a joint initiative between GCAH and EO.

During the Postponed 2020 General Conference, GCAH presented legislation to designate five United Methodist-related historic sites as official Heritage Landmarks. The legislation passed on consent calendar on April 30, 2024.

The new Heritage Landmarks are Helenor M. Alter Davisson's grave site at Barkley Township, Indiana; Western Union, now Westmar College campus in Le Mars, Iowa; Lakeside Chautauqua Cluster, Lakeside, Ohio; Christ United Methodist Church, Honolulu, Hawaii; and Wolcott United Methodist Church, Wolcott, Vermont. Read more about each site.

To learn more about GCAH, the Global Ambassador of Methodist Heritage Sites and the American Methodist Pilgrimage, visit ResourceUMC.org/ArchivesandHistory.

Used from General Commission on Archives and History