…In the Narthex…


Artifacts located in the Narthex of Wesley Chapel starting panoramically to the right of the entrance from the Narthex to the chapel proper and continuing to the right and returning to the left of the chapel entrance.

by Paula McGrew

Candlesticks from Pope Paul VI

On February 13, 1968, Bishop Joseph H. Hodges of the Wheeling Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church presented two candlesticks as gifts from Pope Paul VI. These candlesticks had been used at Vatican II. The eccumenical spirit was in full evidence as the speaker at the Wesley Chapel at that service was Rabbi Marc M. Tanenbaum, one of the nation’s leading rabbis. Wesley Chapel has always been open for and welcoming to people of all faiths.

Reger Bible

In 1782 this Bible was carried across the mountains and through the wilderness by Jacob Reger as he and his wife Barbary [Crites] came to settle in this area. The Bible measures 12 x 16 x 5, and weighs twelve pounds. The cover is leather-covered wood, and there were brass plates protecting the corners and at one time there were brass clasps as well.

Descendants of the family have played a large role in West Virginia Wesleyan College history. Rev. John W. Reger (1815-1893) was one of the founding trustees. He worked tirelessly to make the dream of this college a reality. In the Annual Conference Minutes of 1893, we read:

“During his later years he took a profound interest in the West Virginia Conference Seminary…A few days before his death he said: ‘The crowning act of my life I consider to have been the humble efforts which I made in the locating and building of the West Virginia Conference Seminary.’ The institution lay very near to his heart. For it he toiled and sacrificed as well as gave generously of his means.”

The very first student to enroll when the doors opened on September 3, 1890 was Roy Reger.

To read more of his story, click here [The First One in Line].

The Reger Bible was donated to the school by the family in October 1980.

Photo from the 1981 Sundial: Pictured are from L-R: Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. Reger, Mrs. Deane Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Kyle H. Reger, and John S. Reger

The Last Supper

This ceramic depiction of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” was presented to West Virginia Wesleyan College by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Christopher, the same people who made the college’s Christopher Hall of Science possible in memory of their son. Mrs. Christopher was a 1914 graduate of Wesleyan and was the former Mabel Neville. Beyond the knowledge of the donors, there is no other information about the origin of this beautiful piece.

The writing beneath Jesus shows that it is a Germanic ceramic piece. It translates “The Holy Evening Meal, by L. da Vinci.”

Moses Statue

This statue of Moses carved from olive wood stands in the Narthex of Wesley Chapel. It is the work of Israeli artist Uri Roth, a native of Munkatz, Czechoslovakia, who found his way to Israel after liberation in 1945 from the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz in Poland. The statue was brought back from the Holy Land by West Virginia Wesleyan President and Mrs. Stanley H. Martin and presented to the college (Mr. Martin was president from 1957-72).

Carved from the wood of an olive tree which came from near Nazareth, this statue celebrates the “Giving of the Ten Commandments” to Moses (Moshe). In his writings about this piece, Roth mentions the celebration of Shavuot, a festival celebrating the Giving of the Torah. This festival occurs seven weeks after the second Passover Seder. As it happens, this year that date fell on June 10th — just before Annual Conference!

The following is transcribed from a handwritten note from Uri Roth:

“And His Beauty Shall Be As The Olive Tree” (Hosea 14:6)

Grand Father Olive

 As one of the oldest and best known trees and covering the hills of the Galilee since centuries and even enhancing surroundings at Zipori, in neighborhood of Nazareth, at Roman times and today.

 Zipori, a well known city, important during centuries more a time of Hordos Antipas and Agripas, and at modern days the supplier of this unusual olive wood.

“Moshe with Ten Commandments” was sculptured by the artist from a piece of olive wood grown near Zipori, nearly 200 of years ago.

Uri Roth’s interpretation arises intensively right out from the warmth of the wood. The scenery, Character in the olives, better known as the grain and the unique shape, which nature was so lovely to bring to the hands of the artist, meaning and significance are married to him as an expression of his knowing reflected in his work. Sculpting and creating is a firm decision, forwarding to people the artist’s aspects according the subjects.

“Giving of the Ten Commandments”

These days the Jewish people celebrated once more the Feast of Shavuoth, holiday of getting the Tora. The statue reflects more than we find at first moment’s glance. At prayers and blessings in honour of this day of having the Ten Commandments, an event of extreme power and occurred only once in world history. The Tora was given immediately, fifty days after the Exodus of Egypt, and before entering the Holy and – Eretz Israel, pointing out that leaving Egypt was indeed only to present the Tora, and to fulfill his commandments, now and forever.

Already olive trees abundantly covered the hills of the Holy Land before Joshua came to Israel with the Tribes.

Today as in the past the olive tree stands unique. No two trees are alike. A form of its own, unusual shapes and every piece of wood a challenge to the artist and his craftsmanship.

Bringing peace upon earth

Warmth, Shalom, Beauty of the olive wood.

The Artist,

Uri Roth

Following is a biography of Uri Roth, written by Uri himself, which was sent to President Martin:“It is indeed fitting that the unique talent of Uri Roth, the youth who survived Auschwitz, should find its expression in the carving of the Olive — the symbol of the perpetuity of the land of Israel. (So closely intertwined with the history and perpetuity of Israel.)

Uri Roth was born in 1927 in the town of Munkatz, Czechoslovakia. Here he went to Hebrew school and received a Zionist education. He was talented in painting and handicraft, played the piano and dreamt of becoming a composer.

On April 15, 1944, he was in the Ghetto of Munkatz, was in contact with the partisans, and finally deported to Auschwitz. After his liberation from Auschwitz – in 1945 – he emigrated to Palestine, but was sent to Cypress by the British. Here he spent his leisure time carving in various materials.

When he finally reached Israel he joined a young pioneer group in Kibbutz Dan, received training in “Palmech” and took part in the liberation of Galilee.

From 1958-1960 he studied under the artist Yechiel Shemi and Marcel Yanco. In 1959 his first Exhibition was held in Tel-Aviv and received a scholarship to enable him to continue his studies. In 1961 he won second prize for his statues exhibited at Z.O.A. house in Tel-Aviv.

After 17 years he left the collective settlement to dedicate his life to wood carving. He became an independent artist in the field of Olive-wood sculpture, and attached to “HAYADITH” firm in Pardess-Hanna / Israel, producers of fine Olive wood articles.

Olive wood is very unusual in its construction. Every branch, root and trunk has its individual composition of lines and the play of its beautiful grain is a challenge to the craftmanship of the artist.”

Von Boetticher Crucifix

Created by an unknown German craftsman in 1358, this crucifix was passed down through the Von Boetticher family for many generations. In each generation at least one family member was a clergyman who preached the Gospel.

In 1952 it was passed to Dr. Edward Louis Boetticher (West Virginia Wesleyan Class of 1926), a Methodist minister in Western Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Gayzelle [Rusk] Boetticher (Class of 1925) enjoyed the piece in their home until his death in 1963.

Edward and Gayzelle met at Wesleyan and spent their lives in service to the church. Upon his death she decided that it more appropriately should be placed in the new chapel being built at their beloved alma mater.

Click here for more about Edward Boetticher.