Bishop G.E. Patterson's artifacts on display in Washington D.C. - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Bishop G.E. Patterson's artifacts on display in Washington D.C.

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(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

When it comes to the late G.E. Patterson, COGIC saints are known to repeat the quote "the messenger sleeps, but the message lives on."

Now, that message is literally etched in stone at the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Kontji Anthony was the only Memphis TV reporter to get a sneak peak at the exhibit that some describe as a beacon of hope.

From a South African deep ocean dive unearthing slave shackles, to the landing of P. Funk's Mother Ship, anything that means something to African American history is inside the Smithsonian's new museum.

A museum with one goal, according to the museum's founding director, Lonnie Bunch, III: "To provide opportunities for us to be made better by the past."

On the 4th floor of the 400,000 square foot, bronze-encased building on Washington, D.C.'s national mall, enshrined in the Cultural Experience Exhibit rotunda, you'll find artifacts from one of Memphis' most prized public figures: the late Bishop Gilbert Earle Patterson. 

"It means a lot to Memphis to have a piece of Bishop G.E. Patterson in the Smithsonian," commented COGIC Spokesperson Deidre Malone. 

The Church of God in Christ leader's artifacts are now among nearly 4,000 exhibits on display starting Saturday. Artifacts donated by his widow, Louise, sit front and center in the "Preaching Traditions" display. 

"Bishop G.E. Patterson's collar and cross and on the other side of the wall, you can hear an excerpt of one of his sermons," said Malone.

The sermon she's talking about is the electrifying "Call His Name" sermon from December 17, 2000.  

In the sermon, he says "...the light shineth in the darkness because the darkness couldn't put it out."

COGIC leaders say the Smithsonian has up to 30 artifacts from G.E. Patterson and they'll be rotated in his case over the next ten years.

"Bishop Patterson was special to Memphis, but he was also special to the world," expounded Malone.  "He was one of the first televangelists in this country and the founder of Bountiful Blessings Ministries, with radio, and TV and his sermons were impeccable."

Known as one of the greatest preachers worldwide, bishop was one of nine people who invited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Memphis for the Sanitation Worker's strike. 

The two-time Grammy nominated gospel singer, and one-time record label president preached more than 50 years before heart failure in 2007. 

Leaders still among us, like the Reverend Jesse Jackson - who visited the museum, say Patterson's legacy shows us all that, much like Patterson's sermon at the museum, light can prevail over darkness, by learning from the past. 

"It teaches us that light illuminates darkness and the truth will rise again and the truth shall set you free.  The truth of the African American existence must finally be told," said Jackson.

Click here to get passes to the museum. 

Click here become a member of the museum. 

To look up other Mid-South artifacts, click here

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