Celebrate Helenor Davisson Sept. 6

Sep 02, 2014

A celebration of women in Methodism will be at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, at the World Methodist Museum, located at 575 N. Lakeshore Drive, Lake Junaluska. The celebration will begin with the unveiling of a painting of the first ordained woman in the denomination that comprises the current United Methodists — the Rev. Helenor Davisson.

Open to the public at no charge, this event will highlight a number of women in the many families of Methodism, including but not limited to AME Zion, Nazarene, United Methodist and others.

Speakers for the brief ceremony include Bishop Ivan Abrahams, general secretary of the World Methodist Council; Bishop Charlene Kammerer, who has done much international mission work while serving the WNCC and Virginia Conferences; and the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, general secretary (chief executive) of the General Board of Discipleship.  Also participating in the program will be Yvette Richards, president of the National United Methodist Women (UMW), and Tonya Lanier, president of the Western North Carolina Conference UMW. Vocalist Susan Gaddy will perform specially arranged music and refreshments will be served in the museum library.

Clay Michael Powers, of Cataula, Georgia, was the artist of the painting.  The Rev. Christopher Shoemaker from Wadley, Georgia, the principal scholar on Davisson’s life and ordination, did extensive research on this project.

“Helenor was ordained as a deacon in 1866 as a Methodist Protestant,” said Shoemaker.  “She traveled as a circuit rider as well as a pastor in her home area of Indiana and died in relationship with the Conference even though there was a period from 1871-1880 when women were not ordained.”

“Indiana Conference historian Dr. Richard Stowe and I decided Lake Junaluska would be the ideal home for Helenor’s portrait,” he added. “We wanted visitors from the world over to be able to encounter Helenor and hear her story. There is no better place for this than the World Methodist Museum.”

Before being added to Lake Junaluska to add to the collection at the World Methodist Museum, Davisson’s life was celebrated and the painting shown at a special event in Rensselaer, Indiana, on the 148th anniversary of her ordination. A marker concreted the Methodist historic cluster site and a clergy medallion was added to her grave there.

“We are pleased at the careful research compiled by the Rev. Shoemaker, the beautiful and historically accurate painting of Mr. Powers and thrilled to be able to highlight some of the many women in Methodism, beginning with Susanna Wesley, the mother of John Wesley,” said Jackie Bolden, museum director.

The museum is a ministry of the World Methodist Council which includes 80 denominations of Methodism in more than 130 countries, and is open Tuesday through Saturday.

For information, call 456-9432, ext. 4.