Great success for event remembering an 'American saint'

UntitledHundredsof people attended a day of special events at the Black CountyLiving Museum, Dudley, on Saturday 9 April to celebrate the200th Anniversary of the death of a local man who helpedshape modern America, Bishop Francis Asbury.

A day of costumed choirs, special services and talks were heldat the museum, attended by hundreds of Methodists from across theUK in addition to the museum's regular visitors.

Also present were special guests from the United MethodistChurch in America, where Asbury is revered as one of those whohelped define the nation.

A humble metal worker from the Black Country who became anitinerant Methodist minister, Asbury answered a request by JohnWesley, one of the founders of the Methodist Church, for preachersto serve in America.

Asbury's passion and determination meant that Methodism survivedthe American War of Independence and become an important part ofthe founding of the young country.

From fewer than 1,200 members, the Church grew to more than210,000 thanks to Asbury's efforts.

A variety of celebrations were held in Asbury's honour at theBlack Country Museum, including:

  • Special services held in the Museum's former Methodist NewConnexion Providence Chapel, led by the Revd Steve Wild, Presidentof the Methodist Conference and Dr Jill Barber,Vice-President. 
  • 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, amember of the Methodist Heritage Committee , and representativesfrom the United Methodist Church in the USA - Bishop Mary AnnSwenson; the Revd Fred Day, General Secretary of the UMC GeneralCommission on Archives and History, and Mr John Strawbridge,Vice-President and Development Chair of the United MethodistHistorical Society.
  • Exhibition of portraits and personal memorabilia of Asbury fromMethodist Heritage sites in the UK and USA.
  • Heritage busses, which took visitors from the museum to nearbyNewton, Great Barr, and the small eighteenth-century cottage whereAsbury spent his childhood.

The Revd Fred Day commented: "This has been a wonderful andexciting day for us. Asbury is not as well-known as he should begiven how important he is to US history. He travelled around270,000 miles on horseback, telling people about faith, and waseven a friend to George Washington."

Jo Hibbard, the Methodist Church in Britain's Director ofEngagement, added: "The day was a great mixture of fun and history,with a lot of us discovering how one man from the Black Countryinfluenced, what went on to become, one of most powerful nations onearth."


The day was covered locally and nationally by media outletsincluding:
The Express & Star 
Premier Christian Radio
BBC Radio 4 (from 29:54)



  • Photo: Story teller, Ken Luxon, told stories on the day dressedas Francis Asbury
  • For more photos from the day, please visit our Flickr page
  • For further information about Bishop Francis Asbury and thehistory of Methodism, visit the Methodist Heritage website