Minnie’s Seaside Rest opens history to visitors at UCC offices in Cleveland

Minnie’s Seaside Rest is now lakeside, along the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, at home in the United Church of Christ’s national offices.

Minnie’s Seaside Rest in Maine.

Today, it is a museum of archival objects commemorating the history of UCC foreign missionaries. But it began as a vacation resort in New England for Protestant missionaries, in memory of a little girl named Minnie Green, who died at the age of 7.

Minnie’s mother, Aminta Green, had hopes her young daughter would one day become a missionary. To honor her little girl after her passing, property in Maine along the seashore was donated as a place of rest for the missionaries Mrs. Green so admired.

‘Haven’t seen daylight in a while’

Over time, the missionaries no longer regularly used the church-operated properties for vacations and furloughs, the property was divested, and the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC (now part of the Southern New England Conference) became the keepers of many of the items that once were found there. Eventually those objects found their way to the UCC National Setting.

“Many of these items have not seen daylight in quite a while,” explained UCC archivist Ed Cade. “And when the UCC moved its offices to the new address at 1300 E. 9th Street, then-Associate General Minister Karen Georgia Thompson asked me to pull a museum of sorts together.”

This museum was completed in the summer of 2023 and is now open to welcome visitors who are curious and interested in this fascinating missionary history.

Objects of interest

One object of particular interest is a document known as the Mediterranean Pass, signed in 1826 by President John Quincy Adams, allowing for safe passage of American missionary ships when they encountered Barbary pirates. The historic Silver Chalice of Canton (China) from 1837 is another commemorative piece that can be viewed in the archive. Cade shares the significance of this chalice in a YouTube video tour.

Cade himself has a favorite piece on display: the Boxer Sword. “There was a Nationalist Chinese uprising in 1900 all across China,” Cade shared. “The goal was to eradicate Westerners, and over 100 missionaries were executed. The mythology is that the blood of these martyrs is on the sword. It is actually rust, but it makes for a good story.”

Many people had their first chance to view the space at the National Setting’s Christmas party, and Cade said he is pleased with the response he has received. Anyone can stop in to visit Minnie’s Seaside Rest on the 11th floor of the AECOM Building when the office is open during regular business hours.

Spend some time and learn

The Boxer Sword, an item from the Boxer Rebellion uprising in China at the turn of the 20th century.

Cade has plans to keep the museum interesting.

“The objects on display will be changed over time — there isn’t enough space to put everything out all at once,” he said. “Also, some historic maps will soon be available to view.”

There are also videos on large screens that one can watch, expounding on the history of the UCC missionaries.

The Rev. Shari Prestemon, the UCC’s new Acting Associate General Minister, has found much to be inspired by in Minnie’s Seaside Rest.

“In this place, we see gifts given to us by mission coworkers over more than a century,” she reflected in a video message. “… We’re reminded that we have had people of faith going out into the world on our behalf for so long and bearing witness to the love and compassion and mercy of Jesus Christ.”

“Ed has done a beautiful job with this project,” General Minister and President Thompson told those gathered in Cleveland for the holiday party. “I encourage all of you to stop by and spend some time at Minnie’s Seaside Rest to learn about this amazing history.”

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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