Winfred D. Polk Archives
For The Arkansas Conference United Methodist Church

Estay Reed Organ from the Smyrna Methodist Church, located six miles west of Searcy in White County, Arkansas.

This violin was made in Germany in 1928 by Heinrich Roth, founder of the Roth violin company, which is still in business. It was purchased in early 1960's by friends in Benton, Arkansas, who gifted the violin to Rev. John McCormack (1908-2003). Rev. McCormack had learned violin as a child on a lesser violin, a Christmas present from Sears and Roebuck that his sister purchased for $5.00. Upon the receipt of this gift, McCormack quickly shed any rustiness as he became as well known for his violin playing as his preaching and evangelism.. Rev. McCormack's violin was donated to museum by Paul McCormack, son of Rev. McCormack.


Theressa Hoover, who passed away in 2014, was a historic first. She was the first African-American woman to become a top staff executive for The United Methodist Church in 1968 when she became head of the Women's Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the corporate body of United Methodist Women. She served in that capacity of leadership from 1968-1990, for 22 years. Theressa Hoover United Methodist Church in Little Rock was named after her, and it is thought that this was the first local church named after a laywoman.

Reverend Andrew Gray (1812-1897)

An early Methodist preacher in Arkansas, and founder and builder of Gray's Chapel which burned in 1997.  Gray's Chapel was near Cave City.

Shakeelah Rahmaan, Curator

History of Mount Eagle Christian Center, formerly known as Nawake, and previously Myers Ranch.

In use during 1890's, this adorable little wooden box, with sliding lid and slot, is an old hand-made contribution box. It was used in the Frenchmen Mountain Methodist Episcopal Church, South (organized 1872), which became the Cato Methodist Episcopal Church, South in 1907. The historic church is still standing and is located on 13915 Frenchman Mountain Road, in Sherwood, Arkansas. The church and historic cemetery are both on the National Register of Historic sites.
The hand written inscription, original to box, states: "God Loveth A Cheerful Giver."

Communion Stewards of Wesley Chapel,

on the Philander Smith College Campus,

under Reverend G.F. Tipton about 1952.

A small New Testament (pictured) owned by three generations of Methodist ministers: the Revs. Willis E. Cooper, Joel Cooper and William Christopher Cooper.

Two pews with divider bar from the Wideman Methodist Church in Izard County.  The divider bar recalls a time when men and women did not sit together in worship. In 1985 Jim Beal visited the abandoned church and secured this section of the pews for the museum.

Little Rock's First UMC, 8th & Center Streets.
Host site of the museum. 

The United Methodist Museum of Arkansas

located at 8th & Center Streets in Little Rock, Arkansas

The Museum was officially reopened on Dec. 27, 2011, and was formally dedicated by Bishop Crutchfield on January 14, 2012. After a few years of storage, the contents of the museum were moved to First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, a historic facility in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.

The museum is housed in three galleries in the basement of the church. Tours by incoming groups or individuals are cordially welcomed upon appointment. The three galleries are connected so that the tours flow from one into the other.

The first gallery is a collection of artifacts dating back to the late 1800’s, with an emphasis upon worship in that period of our church’s history.

The second gallery is devoted to a fine collection of photographs of Bishops connected with Arkansas:

• first, all Bishops who have served in our state,
• second, all Bishops who have Arkansas connections, and
• third, African-American Bishops with Arkansas ties.

The third gallery is dedicated to early camping, conferences and later developments in the life of the Methodism up through the time of the Uniting Conference in 1968 which merged The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church. (By 1935 The Methodist Church, The Methodist Episcopal Church and The Methodist Episcopal Church, South had merged. Also, by 1945 The Evangelical Church and The Church of the United Brethren In Christ had merged.)

The Museum displays are changed frequently so that it is a developing museum with new materials always exhibited. For example, in 2015 the Museum had a special loan exhibition, “Methodism On the American Frontier.” This exhibit included 10 works of art by the Rev. John Polk of First UMC Hot Springs. Polk’s works transported viewers back in time to early Methodism in America and Arkansas.

Many persons have visited the new museum and all seemed to have left with a better understanding and appreciation of The United Methodist Church. The Museum is also an excellent resource for confirmation classes and other groups interested in learning more about the Methodist heritage


The Museum is open on Wednesdays, when drop-in visits are welcome from 9 a.m. to 4 pm. Tours are available on other days by appointment. To schedule a tour for your Sunday school class, confirmation class or other group, send an email to ummac.LR@gmail.com.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for our history, mission, purpose, donation policies, and list of artifacts we are seeking.

"Brush Arbor Camp Meeting" by Sandra Hughes

These open-air serves were called "brush arbor" after the temporary structures topped by brush and leafy twigs.  These one to three day meetings were a popular occurrence in the back woods of Arkansas.

Pew from the Lafferty Methodist Episcopal Church in 
Batesville.  Lafferty was in the ME North Conference, not the Methodist Episcopal South Conference.

Old Communion Set and three remaining glass cups from First UMC Conway.

There are currently over 200 church plates in the museum collection.

Photographs of Former Bishops of Arkansas

Mourning Suit with Swallow-Tail Coat, Vest and Striped Pants​ Used by Rev. Robert E. Lee Bearden Sr. for funerals he conducted during his many years as a Methodist ​pastor in Arkansas.

The Museum is open on Wednesdays,

when drop-in visits are welcome from 9 a.m. to 4 pm.
Tours are available on other days by appointment.

To schedule a tour for your Sunday school class, confirmation class or other group, send an email to ummac.LR@gmail.com.

This metal sign was used from 1930 to 1940 by Little Rock's First Methodist Church, the oldest Methodist Church in Little Rock, organized in 1831.

Gray's Chapel Bell

Gray's Chapel (now abandoned) was located between Batesville and Cave City.

Presidents of Philander Smith College

Andrew Hunter (1813-1902

He served sixty-six years in Arkansas.

The Museum is open on Wednesdays, 
when drop-in visits are welcome from 9 a.m. to 4 pm.
Tours are available on other days by appointment. 
To schedule a tour for your Sunday school class, confirmation class or other group, send an email to ummac.LR@gmail.com.

Houston Methodist Church is located on AR State Highway 60 in Houston, AR. It was built in 1890.

The Museum is open on Wednesdays,

when drop-in visits are welcome from 9 a.m. to 4 pm.
Tours are available on other days by appointment.

To schedule a tour for your Sunday school class, confirmation class or other group, send an email to ummac.LR@gmail.com.

Our History
In the late 1800’s, there was a growing interest in preserving historical materials and artifacts of Arkansas Methodism. In 1886, the first history of Arkansas Methodism by Reverend Horace Jewell was published. Other histories followed by these authors: James Anderson, 1935; Walter N. Vernon, 1976; W.D. Lester, 1979 (an African-American history); and Nancy Britton, 2000.

In 1968, it became a mandate by the General Conference that each conference have archives and history as part of the Ministry of Memory. In 1994, the Historical Society of Arkansas United Methodism was founded, and out of that society two other entities were born that same year: the United Methodist Archives and the museum, then called the United Methodist Museum of Arkansas (UMMA). In May of 1994, UMMA opened at its first location, Quapaw Quarter United Methodist in Little Rock. A formal dedication was held in February 2001 at that location, but in October 2003, the museum had to vacate as Quapaw needed space for a new arts ministry. In 2005 the museum reopened at a second location in Asbury United Methodist Church in Batesville, and remained there until 2009 when church was leased to another congregation. Artifacts were again stored while there was a search for the third location. In March 2011 a lease was signed by trustees of the Arkansas Conference with First United Methodist in Little Rock for the museum space. Renamed The United Methodist Museum of the Arkansas Conference (UMMAC), the museum reopened in Dec. 2011 at First United Methodist Church, and was formally dedicated by Bishop Charles N. Crutchfield on Jan. 14, 2012. Funding for the establishment of UMMAC at FUMCLR was made possible by a generous grant from The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas.

Why the name change at the third location? In 2006, the Arkansas Conference had reorganized the historical divisions of the Arkansas conference into three separate groupings, with one overseeing body — one large umbrella was the History Commissioner for the Conference who oversaw these three now separate entities: (1) the museum, (2) the Historical Society, (3) the archives. The Conference also began funding these three separate divisions in 2006. No longer an entity of the Historical Society but of the Arkansas Conference, the museum was renamed The United Methodist Museum of the Arkansas Conference (UMMAC) in 2011 to reflect that reorganization and the state-wide emphasis of the collection housed in the museum.


Mission Statement
The mission of the United Methodist Museum of the Arkansas Conference is to preserve the historically significant and inclusive history of Arkansas United Methodism by collecting, preserving, and exhibiting artifacts for a diverse audience, while providing opportunities for exploring this history and culture. Though this museum is a bridge to the past, as United Methodists we will always remain open to the ongoing lordship of the Holy Spirit for the transformation of the world by increasingly making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Purpose Statement
The purpose of the United Methodist Museum of the Arkansas Conference is to collect two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects which are of historical significance to Arkansas United Methodists history, such as: church furnishings, personal items used by United Methodist clergy, commemorative items, objects related to corporate worship, and educational objects. Also, portraits and group pictures of historical sites that are significant to Arkansas United Methodism are collected and preserved.


Monetary Donations
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and operate solely on donations. Your tax-deductible dollars assist us in the important preservation of a vibrant history.
Thank you.
Please make checks payable to UMMAC and mail to:
United Methodist Museum of Arkansas
723 Center St.
Little Rock, AR 72201

We also need volunteers able to contribute 2 hours a month.

Artifact Donations and Loans
All items important to Methodism, particularly Arkansas Methodism, will be considered for the museum collection. Every artifact must have provenance — a brief written history — and identifying information, and be approved by both Curator and Accession Committee.

UMMAC accepts incoming loans of artifacts for exhibition only, not for storage.

To offer an artifact for consideration, please contact the museum at 501-251-7492 or ummac.lr@gmail.com; or the following members of the Accession Committee: Rev. Don Nolley, 501-351-4493, dcanolley@comcast.net; Martha Sowell, 501-224-9333, mnsowell@gmail.com.

Specific Artifacts Being Sought
Photographs, Paintings, Drawings, Prints—clergy and laity portraits, groups, churches, events, etc.
Any image of Rev. William Wallace Andrews—founder of Wesley Chapel, an historic African-American Church
Any image of Eli Lindsey, William Stevenson, John Henry, and other early circuit riders (active pre-photography: images, if available, are likely drawings or paintings).
Digital images and/or Scanned Images—items listed above (send electronically to museum email at ummac.lr@gmail.com with a text explaining image or images).
Furniture—baptismal fonts, pulpits, lecterns, pews, altars, Sunday school chairs, etc.
Architectural elements from closed churches—a stained-glass window (if not too large), a fresco or mural, banister rail, newel, church signs, cornerstones, etc.
Textile items— quilts, paraments, altar cloths, pulpit robes, stoles, wall hangings, etc.
Items used in worship—communion service sets, chalices, crucifers/crosses, candle holders, offering plates, etc.
Ceramic commemorative church plates depicting churches in Arkansas.
Ceramic commemorative plates depicting events in Methodism.
Sculpture–will consider small sculptured figures out of wood, ceramic, metal, etc.
Saddlebag and/or Saddle— searching for one used by a circuit rider.
United Evangelical Brethren— any of items previously listed.

Wood pulpit from the 16th & Louisiana location of Winfield United Methodist Church.  The Quapaw Quarter UMC is now located in that facility.

The above maps show the 8th & Center Street location of Little Rock's First UMC where the museum is located.

​​​​​​Newspapers

Click above to read or download copies of the Arkansas Methodist Newspaper issues beginning with 1884.

Reverend William Duncan (1857-1914), graduated from Philander Smith College in 1882, becoming the first African American Elder in Arkansas Methodism.

Handmade Dark Pulpit from the now abandoned Higginson UMC in White County, east of Searcy.