Great success for event remembering an 'American saint'
13 April 2016
of people attended a day of special events at the Black County
Living Museum, Dudley, on Saturday 9 April to celebrate the
200th Anniversary of the death of a local man who helped
shape modern America, Bishop Francis Asbury.
A day of costumed choirs, special services and talks were held
at the museum, attended by hundreds of Methodists from across the
UK in addition to the museum's regular visitors.
Also present were special guests from the United Methodist
Church in America, where Asbury is revered as one of those who
helped define the nation.
A humble metal worker from the Black Country who became an
itinerant Methodist minister, Asbury answered a request by John
Wesley, one of the founders of the Methodist Church, for preachers
to serve in America.
Asbury's passion and determination meant that Methodism survived
the American War of Independence and become an important part of
the founding of the young country.
From fewer than 1,200 members, the Church grew to more than
210,000 thanks to Asbury's efforts.
A variety of celebrations were held in Asbury's honour at the
Black Country Museum, including:
- Special services held in the Museum's former Methodist New
Connexion Providence Chapel, led by the Revd Steve Wild, President
of the Methodist Conference and Dr Jill Barber,
- A flash-mob choir of around 30 singers from two local choirs,
all wearing period costumes, singing rousing hymns.
- Guest talks from Methodist minister, the Revd Ward Jones, a
member of the Methodist Heritage Committee , and representatives
from the United Methodist Church in the USA - Bishop Mary Ann
Swenson; the Revd Fred Day, General Secretary of the UMC General
Commission on Archives and History, and Mr John Strawbridge,
Vice-President and Development Chair of the United Methodist
- Exhibition of portraits and personal memorabilia of Asbury from
Methodist Heritage sites in the UK and USA.
- Heritage busses, which took visitors from the museum to nearby
Newton, Great Barr, and the small eighteenth-century cottage where
Asbury spent his childhood.
The Revd Fred Day commented: "This has been a wonderful and
exciting day for us. Asbury is not as well-known as he should be
given how important he is to US history. He travelled around
270,000 miles on horseback, telling people about faith, and was
even a friend to George Washington."
Jo Hibbard, the Methodist Church in Britain's Director of
Engagement, added: "The day was a great mixture of fun and history,
with a lot of us discovering how one man from the Black Country
influenced, what went on to become, one of most powerful nations on
The day was covered locally and nationally by media outlets
The Express & Star
Premier Christian Radio
BBC Radio 4 (from 29:54)
- Photo: Story teller, Ken Luxon, told stories on the day dressed
as Francis Asbury
- For more photos from the day, please visit our
- For further information about Bishop Francis Asbury and the
history of Methodism, visit the
Methodist Heritage website