Baptist Ministers Visit Holston Conference Archive to see Sheffey Collection
The Holston Conference Archive is a repository of the United Methodist Church for the Holston Conference. The Holston Conference is the geographical subdivision for East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Northwest Georgia. In 1953, the Holston Conference Archives were moved from Church Street Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, to the library at Emory & Henry College. The Archives would stay housed at Emory & Henry College until 2015, and in 2019, the Holston Conference Archives were moved to Sherman Hall on the campus of Tennessee Wesleyan University.
The archive is a partnership between the United Methodist Church and Tennessee Wesleyan University.
“The Holston Conference Archive coordinates with the Tennessee Wesleyan University Library to help fulfill its mission to empower its constituency of students, faculty, and staff in the access, evaluation, and use of information,” said Daniel Ferkin, Holston Conference Archivist.
The archive has also partnered with the TWU History Department, which gives TWU students the opportunity to participate in a public history internship that will provide hands-on experience to aid in their professional development. The archive has also helped the school promote its own history; TWU is just one of the many colleges and universities established by the United Methodist Church.
An important resource for ministers who are interested in local and regional history, the archive showcases over 200 years of primary sources, documents, and artifacts related to the Methodist Church that are important to the local communities of the Holston Conference. Annual conference journals, Methodist newspapers and periodicals dating back to the early 19th century, personal collections of notable ministers and bishops such as the Sheffey Collection, a collection of 1,400 books on topics of theology and history, and more are showcased within the archives.
A group of Baptist ministers visited the Sheffey Collection on March 23. Robert Sayers Sheffey was a noted Methodist circuit rider and faith healer who became an important figure in Appalachian folklore; his collection in the archive contains his personal Bible, as well as correspondence that gives insight into his thoughts when he was alive. Sheffey was a famous traveling preacher for other denominations as well. The Baptist ministers who visited the archive to see the Sheffey Collection are from the region and had an interest in seeing part of their own historical legacy. They expressed their interest in the collection as a resource not only for their ministries, but for their family and community histories.
The Sheffey Collection is one example of how the archives’ primary resources allow visitors the opportunity to learn about the Holston area through the lens of Methodist influence from the 18th century to present day.
“By housing the archive, the University is a stakeholder in helping to preserve and provide access to local and regional Methodist history,” stated Ferkin, “to both assist in maintaining the history and legacy of the United Methodist Church in Holston, and to assist in facilitating Holston communities to be able to tell their stories.”