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Highest ranking officer opens new Methodism exhibition

Sarah Friswell, chair of the trustees;, Amy Wilkinson, Bishop Ivan Abrahams and curator Gillian Crawley
Sarah Friswell, chair of the trustees;, Amy Wilkinson, Bishop Ivan Abrahams and curator Gillian Crawley

A new exhibition has been launched in the Isle which shows how the members of Methodist women’s groups banded together nationally to demonstrate their support of the women’s Black Sash group in south Africa which was working to have apartheid abolished.

The new exhibition, Over The Rainbow, is at Epworth Old Rectory, and is a continuation of the exhibition of the Methodist Women’s movement which has been running for the last two years.

Site volunteer, and new press officer, Cath Fordham explained: “The Over the Rainbow campaign was the declaration of the solidarity and support for the Black Sash movement in South Africa by the entirety of the Methodist Women’s movement from all four corners of the UK.

“The Black Sash movement was a women’s movement supporting Nelson Mandela and fighting against Apartheid.

“In 1990 the Women’s Network in the different districts made their own banners and converged on Kennington Park in London, which was a massive display of British women supporting their downtrodden sisters in South Africa. Many of the banners no longer exist as they were only intended for the one day, however we at the rectory are lucky to have around 20 of the ones still in existence.”

The exhibition was launched last week and was attended, and officially opened, by Bishop Ivan Abrahams, himself a South African who was born into the Methodist Church. He joined the church as a minister and rose through the ranks, and as Bishop he officiated at the funeral of Nelson Mandela. The Bishop is the General Secretary of the World Methodist Council, the highest officer of the worldwide Methodist church.

Also in attendance was Sarah Friswell, the visitor centre manager at King’s College Cambridge and recently appointed chair of trustees; Gillian Crawley, manager and curator of the collection; and Amy Wilkinson, who put the exhibition together after researching on the artefacts held at the rectory.

Cath continued: “The exhibition will run throughout this season with the banners being changed at intervals so that all the ones we have will be displayed at some point. Visitors do not have to pre-book to see the house and exhibition, unless they wish to attend in a group of ten or more.”