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July 18, 2022

Francis Asbury

He left his life in England behind and rode across the United States on horseback, frequenting tobacco houses, pubs, and courthouses. His name was Francis Asbury, and he traveled a quarter of a million miles in his lifetime. Was he running from authorities or campaigning for office? No. Asbury was living the hard and financially unrewarding life of a traveling preacher. “Let others condemn me . . . or say what they please. . . . I love my parents and friends, but I love my God better and his service. . . . And tho’ I have given up all, I do not repent, for I have found all.” Asbury became the head of the Methodist Episcopal church in 1794, and changed the denomination. When he arrived in America in 1771, there were 316 reported members of the Methodist Church. Forty-five years later, at the time of his death, there were 214,000 members and 695 preachers. Asbury read his Bible daily. At the ordination of a Methodist minister in New York he made his views crystal clear. Holding the Bible over his head and speaking to the young man, he said: “This is the minister’s battle ax; this is his sword; take this, therefore and conquer.” In his first year leading the denomination, Asbury dedicated the first African American Methodist Church in Philadelphia. He also mentored and ordained Richard Allen, the founding bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Asbury’s influence on evangelical Christianity is widely acknowledged, evidenced by Asbury University and Asbury Seminary in Kentucky.

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