Francis Asbury - Responding to Call

A portrait of Francis Asbury, reproduced with the permission of the Trustees of Wesley’s Chapel

The Methodist Church in Britain and The United Methodist Church are celebrating 250 years since Francis Asbury’s missional journey from England to America.

At the age of 26, Asbury stood up and responded to John Wesley’s call for men to go to America as missionaries. He thought he would be gone for just a few months, but spent the rest of his life in America, preaching almost until the day he died at the age of 70. He brought Methodism to thousands of Americans. This autumn, we are celebrating his response to John Wesley’s call, and using the anniversary as an opportunity to reflect upon God’s call on our lives. Watch our video from Pill featuring local Methodists and extracts from Francis Asbury's dairy:

 

Our celebrations in Britain took place over the weekend of the 11th and 12th September and are available to view again here: 

  • Anniversary Service: At the New Room in Bristol, where Asbury was commissioned, Rev Jonathan Pye lead a special anniversary service. Barbara Easton, Vice-President of the Conference, reflected on what Asbury means to her. The service is available to view here.
  • Magpie22 Concert: Folk-Americana band Magpie 22 performed a selection of original compositions, covers and spiritual songs reflecting the themes of travel and the sea. Join online here.

The events in Bristol are the start of the anniversary celebrations. The UMC will host events on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st October, marking 250 years since Asbury arrived in Philadelphia. In the weeks in between, when Asbury would have been travelling, we are sharing weekly reflections focusing on what vocation and calling mean to Methodists today. Please join us in using these reflections, which will be shared weekly here:

Reflections

We will be sharing reflections during the weeks between Francis Asbury's departure from Pill and arrival in Philadelphia at the end of October. 

Journaling

Our first is on the significance of journaling, by our Mission Partners, the Revd Dr Stephen Day and the Revd Jane Day. Discover how spiritual journaling can be valuable in deepening faith and processing life's ups and downs. Read Stephen's reflection here and watch Jane's video:

Rural Ministry

Our second reflection by our Rural Mission and Ministry Officer, Sarah Hulme, looks at rural ministry and the context we face today as we try to live out our calling. You can read it here.

Responding to God's Call

Our third reflection is from our President, the Revd Sonia Hicks on responding to God's call.  Sonia reflects on her own path to ordained ministry and the call to minister amongst communities in Jamaica. You can read it here. 

Podcast 

Learn more about the life and legacy of Francis Asbury from Sarah Hollingdale, Methodist Heritage Officer and Ashley Boggan Dreff, General Secretary  of the UMC Commission on Archives and History. The Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, Barbara Easton, explains why she is one of Asbury's biggest fans. Listen here.

Why am I such a fan of Asbury? I think it’s because, by rights, he was someone that on-one should ever have heard of. Most things in life were stacked against him – he was an apprentice nail-maker with little education. Yet he was fired up by the faith that he found and this gave him an energy which nothing could stop. He didn’t have a lot of learning, but he studied (and kept studying) to get the education he needed. At a time when most people didn’t travel far, he went round and round the preaching circuit of the growing, challenging towns encouraging people to find a transformative faith like his. He was said to be an extra-ordinary preacher’. He didn’t always have great health or confidence, but he didn’t let that define him or what he could do for the church. He put up his hand and said, ‘Here am I. Send me.’

Barbara Easton, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference

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