The B. L. Fisher Library at Asbury Theological Seminary is pleased to announce it has recently acquired the Bennis Collection, an Irish Methodist archive of original letters to and from Eliza Bennis. She was actively involved in the growth and maintenance of Methodism in Ireland, keeping John Wesley informed of developments there and encouraging many dispirited missionaries by her sound and independent advice. One of the “mothers” of Methodism, Bennis was among the first Methodist converts in Limerick and was a regular correspondent of John Wesley, John Stretton (apostle of Methodism in Newfoundland) and other important figures in the early Methodist movement. Highlights of this collection include:
*Three letters to John Wesley on entire sanctification, one autographed by Wesley
*A partial letter written by John Wesley to Bennis which speaks of free will
*Correspondence from John Stretton to Eliza Bennis
*An early Methodist hymn (unattributed at this point)
“This is a significant acquisition,” declared Kenneth J. Collins, Professor of Wesley Studies and Historical Theology and Director of the Wesleyan Studies Summer Seminar. “It is indicative of Asbury Theological Seminary’s increasing leadership among Wesleyan-Evangelical institutions and demonstrates our commitment to serious scholarship in the field of Wesleyan studies.”
“This collection was brought to my attention by one of our acquisitions consultants through our Archivist. Our investment in this early Methodist collection is a great example of our willingness and ability to apply our concern for academic excellence to increase the library’s central importance to theological education,” said Paul Tippey, Director of Library Services of Asbury Theological Seminary.
Brian Yeich, PhD Candidate, University of Manchester/Cliff College and Manager of Faculty Instructional Commons, B.L. Fisher Library, noted, “This collection makes a great addition to the growing number of Wesley and Methodist resources at the B.L. Fisher library. Having correspondence from Wesley is significant for researchers, but I think the highlight of this collection is the letters from an early Methodist, Eliza Bennis. In my own research, I have found letters like these to be an invaluable source of information on the experiences and thoughts of early Methodists.”
Although the B.L. Fisher Library is already home to a significant collection of Wesleyan materials, the Bennis Collection is a great enhancement to the library’s resources.