The Godly Heritage Behind the National Museum of African American History

President Barack Obama speaks during the dedication ceremony for the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Barack Obama speaks during the dedication ceremony for the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Thousands of people are expected to attend the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. this weekend. All 28,500 tickets for the event sold out in less than hour when they went on sale this summer.

The museum will highlight the journey from slavery to freedom — paved, in large part, by faith.

Consequently, many of the exhibits will reflect the role of religion, such as a Harriet Tubman’s book of hymns, the piano of Thomas Dorsey, considered the father of gospel music, and a Bible belonging to Nat Turner.

The small frayed-edged Bible symbolizes the strange and unlikely bond between the new museum and a Virginia family that founded an old country church where Turner is believed to have been baptized.

The resulting relationship sheds insight on how potentially to deal with the growing racial tension in America today.

Persons United Methodist Church

Persons United Methodist Church sits on a lonely, dusty road in Southampton County, Virginia – about an hour south of Richmond.

Average attendance is less than 20, causing the doors to open only two Sundays a month.

Yet, the church is still going strong. Last Sunday, dozens of people filled the pews to celebrate its 178th anniversary.

“My ancestors were founding members of the church,” said Mark Person, organizer of the anniversary and descendant of the church founder. “We go back a few years.”

Within the last decade, Persons UMC has been recognized by Virginia’s governor and President Barack Obama. Even the Queen of England acknowledged their shared connection to the Church of England, sending her regards in a letter by way of her lady-in-waiting.

Now, the church’s reputation is sure to grow as people learn about its connection to the new museum honoring black history.

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SOURCE: CBN News
John Jessup