Memphis, TN —The long awaited Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is now officially open. The entire world can now visit this historical museum, located at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The museum contains about 40,000 objects, items and artifacts. Of those, about 3,500 are currently on display. Among those thousands of priceless pieces, are the personal items of the late Bishop G.E. Patterson, a longtime major leader in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) denomination. Bishop Patterson was the founder of Bountiful Blessings Ministries and served as Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle of COGIC from 2000 until his death in 2007.
More than 20 items were donated to the museum by the Bishop’s widow, Louise Patterson, and will be part of the Cultural Experience Exhibit located on the fourth floor. Two items are currently on display, Bishop Patterson’s collar and crucifix. A video excerpt from one of Bishop Patterson’s sermons can be seen as a part of the exhibit.
Current Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake shares his thoughts on this important tribute. “The Church of God in Christ is honored that our former Presiding Bishop G.E. Patterson, will have items displayed at the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture,” said Blake. “Bishop Patterson was an incredible leader and friend who loved the Church of God in Christ, what a great way to honor his memory.”
Bishop Patterson’s widow, Evangelist Louise Patterson, is also honored about her late husband’s items being on display for the world to see. “I am speechless that my husband’s life accomplishments are recognized in this way,” said Louise Patterson. “It is truly an honor to have his work for the Lord enshrined in a Smithsonian museum for generations to see.”
Here, Mrs. Patterson further shares insight into the making of this historical accomplishment, along with details about the ministerial work that she’s continuing to do.
TRIBUNE: It’s such an honor to chat with you. Let’s start by sharing with the Tribune readers about Bishop Patterson’s items that are currently on display at the museum.
Mrs. Patterson: “Thank you so much…They (the museum curator) selected his cross, which to me was tantamount, because that was the reason for him being who he is, and was. The cross is where he kept his sense and thoughts in trying to draw men and women to Christ. So in spite of all other things that I sent, for them to have selected that, to me was a good sign. I would put it like that. Because that’s who he was, that’s exactly who Bishop Patterson was. He tried to bring people into the light of what that cross represented, and that alone, along with the audio clips that they have, they sort of tie in together, like the curator was in concert with the heart of Bishop Patterson. I initially sent in several items, maybe about twenty-five, and the curator selected the items that they wanted to use. I did not know which ones that they would select.”
TRIBUNE: How did all of this originally start? Did the curator and the museum people contact you?
Mrs. Patterson: “When my husband died, there’s young lady that was a member of our church, who was connected to the museum project. She approached me about attempting to have Bishop be a part of this display. But at the time, I did not think it was good because I had not wrapped around my pain about my husband’s passing…So she came to me again in 2013, and that’s when we started collecting the artifacts. Of course, we had directions from the curator, and some of the pieces that they felt would be best. From that point on and they (the curator) selected the pieces that they wanted to have for the display. They also called to get permission to have a video clip from one of Bishop’s sermons that would run throughout the exhibit. So it’s all very powerful.”
TRIBUNE: What is the title of the sermon that’s a part of the display?
Mrs. Patterson: “The clip they selected the sermon from is called ‘His Name.’ I think it was the wisdom of the curator to select such a quote that would be applicable to anybody that’s heard it — be it black, white, Jew, whatever. It just meant a lot to me, the line that they chose — to call ‘His Name.’ The curator told me they had almost 40,000 artifacts submitted from different people. But the first public showing would only house about 3000 to 4000 exhibits. It was just miraculous that of those 3000-4000 items, for the next 2 years, Bishop Patterson’s items are now a part of the grand opening. Nobody in my estimation could do that but God!”
TRIBUNE: I totally agree with you. Nobody but God himself. Mrs. Patterson, you are obviously still a very busy lady. Share with us some of the work and activities that you are currently doing.
Mrs. Patterson: For the past almost ten years, I’m on the Word Network and several local TV stations in various cities every Sunday. I also run WBBP-1480 AM radio station, and I’m the president and CEO of the corporation. All of those things were functioning when Bishop was alive, and I’m attempting to just mirror him…And of course I have conferences and things like that too, but basically, that’s my thrust, because that’s what gets the television ministry out to the people. The only revenues that sustains the television ministry comes from our faithful viewers. It’s just like he’s (Bishop) alive with that same word of God that brings people together.”
TRIBUNE: Well, you’re doing a beautiful job. I must really recommend you. I know it is through the help of the Lord that is guiding you and is strengthening you. Have you thought about doing a book?
Mrs. Patterson: “Oh yes, but I’m the kind of person who doesn’t move too fast. I know that the timing isn’t right for now. Things haven’t quite of culminated to a point where I feel like I’m ready to do that. It’s a little strange to try to convey, but there’s an inner man inside of me that lets me know when it’s time to do what I need to do, because timing is everything. So that’s what I’m going to embark upon for next year, trying to get a book together.”
TRIBUNE: I will definitely be one of the first people to buy it, read it, and hopefully interview you again.
Mrs. Patterson: “Thank you. I will look forward to speaking with you about the book to share with the readers. You are so kind.”