Moore Methodist Museum welcomes new assistant director
By Kara Witherow, Editor
Elizabeth Rhye is enthusiastic about history and teaching others about United Methodism.
The recent Elon University graduate has combined her passion for history, her United Methodist heritage, and her degree and training into the perfect job as the new assistant director of the Arthur J. Moore Methodist Museum, Library and Archives.
Born and raised a United Methodist in Charlotte, N.C., Rhye came to St. Simons Island after graduating with a history degree. She put her degree to good use just a month after graduation as the museum’s summer intern, creating a United Methodist history scavenger hunt for the South Georgia Conference’s summer campers.
With a theme based on the Marvel Comics’ summer movie hit, “Avengers,” the scavenger hunt was fun and educational.
“It taught the kids about their United Methodist heritage, about John and Charles Wesley, and about Epworth By The Sea,” Rhye said. “It was a ground-level Methodist heritage lesson.”
Joyful and bubbly, Rhye said that she tried to build a lot of enthusiasm and excitement into the history lessons. Those traits seem to have carried over into her new job as assistant director.
The job, she said, fell into her lap by God’s grace and with lots of support and encouragement from an Epworth-loving grandmother.
Her grandmother, herself a lifelong United Methodist, had often traveled from her home in Florida to Epworth By The Sea, and most recently the entire family had vacationed there to celebrate Rhye’s grandfather’s 75th birthday. It was through her grandmother that Rhye learned of the museum internship and was encouraged to apply, and then eventually applied and accepted the job as assistant director.
“This was by God’s grace,” she said. “This whole experience has been a complete blessing. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’m so happy to be here.”
Baptized and raised in The United Methodist Church at St. Stephen UMC in Charlotte, NC, Rhye was very involved in her church’s youth group and in college created a summer Sunday school program that is still in use today.
That interest in teaching, education and youth serves her well in her new role at the museum. As assistant director, Rhye conducts tours, researches, files, helps plan special events, and sometimes is even called upon to fix computers – no day is ever the same.
“There’s no such thing as a typical day at the office here, and I love it,” she said. “We’re a museum, a library and an archives – we really do all of those things every day.”
Rhye, who attends College Place United Methodist Church in Brunswick, has deepened her knowledge and understanding of the denomination. She hopes to teach and impart what she has learned to those she meets at the museum.
“There’s so much history here that most United Methodists don’t know about, and I feel like they should know about it! My passion for United Methodist history has grown being here,” she said.
One day she would even like to teach a class about the history of United Methodism. But for now, Rhye enjoys teaching each person who walks through the doors of the Arthur J. Moore Methodist Museum.
“I want everyone who walks in the door to be my focus for the day,” she said. “I want them to walk away knowing a little more about where they come from than they did when they walked in.”
10 fun United Methodist facts from Moore Methodist Museum Assistant Director Elizabeth Rhye:
1) The museum is the archives for the South Georgia United Methodist conference.
2) The museum has a Bible from 1629 in its vault.
3) The staff and volunteers learn something new every single day!
4) Charles Wesley was a vegetarian.
5) John Wesley believed that electricity had medicinal powers.
6) John Wesley thought that men who wore wigs were vain.
7) Closed churches are supposed to send their records to the museum/archives.
8) Because of their large family, Susanna Wesley scheduled weekly “mother-child” time for each one of her 19 kids. John Wesley’s time was 3 p.m. on Thursdays.
9) The museum gives out beautiful grave markers to deceased clergy of the South Georgia Conference.
10) Because life as a circuit rider was so strenuous, many clergy only lived into their 30s.
Visit the museum online at www.moremethodistmuseum.org and on Facebook at “Arthur Moore Methodist Museum, Library, and Archives”