29 April 2021

Leadership on a Journey

An exhibition that will showcase the influence of Black British, Asian and British global diaspora leaders on Methodism

‘As shoes for your feet, put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the Gospel of peace.’  Ephesians 6.15

The Museum of Methodism at Wesley’s Chapel in London is curating an exhibition in conjunction with the national Church that will showcase, through objects and stories, the influence of Black British, Asian and British global diaspora leaders on Methodism.

Explaining the aims of the exhibition, the Revd Dr Jennifer Smith, Superintendent Minister of Wesley’s Chapel & Leysian Mission, said: “Our responsibility as a Museum is to give all of us a fuller sense of history to help us navigate the future.  This is heritage as mission, and deeply about forming and re-forming Methodist identity to resource our mission today.”

In preparation for the ‘Leadership on a Journey’ exhibition,  the Museum is asking people to send a photo of themselves or a person they want to nominate for the exhibition, and the shoes they wear to do their work in whatever walk of life.  Dr Smith says:  “Sometimes our leaders can feel superhuman or so far away that it is hard to think about emulating them or leading ourselves.  Exhibiting the shoes of Methodist leaders, we are reminding ourselves that the longest journey begins with one step.”

The Museum of Methodism is currently displaying a pair of boots belonging to the Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal which he wore during his Presidency of the Methodist Conference and which carried him from Sheffield to London during his Presidential year to protest the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.  These boots are displayed alongside the equally worn 18th century leather shoes belonging to John Wesley.

The Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal

Speaking about the resonance of shoes on a life’s journey, Dr Bhogal, said:  “I will never forget the first shoes I ever had in Nairobi. A shoe maker came to our house to measure me up. I wore them for my first big journey, from Nairobi to London. I am a walker, now I mainly use boots like those on display in the Museum.

“The guru who inspires me a lot has no feet, no hands, no eyes. He says you can travel far without going anywhere, speak without uttering a word, see without looking. So what do shoes say and show? What journeys and messages and visions do shoes inspire in you? Who are people you would nominate for this Museum display with this in mind?”

John Wesley and Inderjit Bhogal’s shoes on display at Wesley’s Chapel. The boots belonging to Inderjit Bhogal were used from 1997 to 2000.

Bevan Powell, Equalities and Diversity Adviser for the Methodist Church, said:

“The Leadership on A Journey exhibition, celebrates the rich diversity of Methodist people and their incredible contribution to British Methodism. The story of these modern day disciples and their selfless acts of kindness and love of others, will be captured through their shoes worn to provide comfort and protection as they travelled the long and sometimes difficult road of service and leadership. This is an exciting exhibition which I hope will inspire greater focus on the contributions of black and Asian people to British Methodism. The exhibition reflects many of the aims of our ‘Strategy for Justice, Dignity and Solidarity: Towards a Fully Inclusive Methodist Church’.”

The exhibition will run between 5th September and through Black History month until 26th November 2021.

The museum is currently recruiting an exhibition and learning officer to bring the exhibition to fruition. 

To nominate someone for the exhibition please email Wesley's Chapel here

Read Dr Smith's blog on a chance encounter that inspired the exhibition here

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