America's Bishop: Francis Asbury - Christian Heritage Fellowship, Inc.
Select Page

America’s Bishop: Francis Asbury

March 31, 1816
Death of Francis Asbury

Francis Asbury (August 20, 1745 – March 31, 1816) is remembered most for the leadership he provided to early American Methodism. Asbury must not be associated with the theologians of Methodism. Like Jabez Bunting among the British Wesleyan Methodists, Asbury was a great churchman within the American Methodist Episcopal Church. He was one of the first two general superintendents or bishops of American Methodism and was said to be more widely known than General George Washington. Because of great men of God, America became a great nation, and if America is to remain a great nation, it must experience the continued ministry of great men and women of God such as Bishop Francis Asbury.

Early Life (1745-1771)

His outposts marched with the pioneers, his missionaries visited the hovels of the poor, that all might be brought to a knowledge of the truth. Who shall say where his influence, written on the immortal souls of men, shall end? He is entitled to rank as one of the builders of our nation.
President Calvin Coolidge

Francis Asbury was born on August 20/21, 1745 in Handsworth parish near Birmingham, England, to Joseph and Elizabeth Asbury. The only other child born into the family was a daughter who died in infancy.

Though Asbury received little formal education, he was able to read the Bible by the age of seven (1752).

He became an apprentice in a blacksmith shop that bore the name Old Forge. It was owned by a man by the name of Foxall who was a Methodist. Here Asbury became a close friend of the owner’s son, Henry, who later became a wealthy iron merchant in America and built the Foundry Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., the name of which was reminiscent of the forge in England.[1] Soon after he began his apprenticeship, Asbury was converted. He noted in his Journal that he first met and heard John Fletcher preach at Wednesbury when only thirteen or fourteen. Since Asbury was born in 1745, this first meeting would have occurred in 1758 or 1759. He entered the ministry as a local pastor and served five circuits within the Methodist conference.

Ministry in America (1771-1816)

image
John Wesley

On August 17, 1771, John Wesley presented a special plea to his ministers at the Bristol conference for ministers to Methodists in America. Asbury responded and almost immediately set sail with Richard Wright for America, landing in Philadelphia on October 27.

At the Christmas Conference of 1784, Asbury was elected “general superintendent.” In 1788, Asbury changed his title to “bishop,” something which Wesley strongly disapproved.

Asbury passed away in the log cabin home of George Arnold near Spottsylvania, Virginia. In dedicating a bronze statue of Asbury in the nation’s capital, President Coolidge declared: “His outposts marched with the pioneers, his missionaries visited the hovels of the poor, that all might be brought to a knowledge of the truth. Who shall say where his influence, written on the immortal souls of men, shall end? He is entitled to rank as one of the builders of our nation.”

Contribution to Methodism

image
Francis Asbury Monument

At Thomas Crenshaw’s in Hanover County, Virginia, Francis Asbury founded the first Sunday school in America, just as Methodist Hannah Ball had started a Sunday school in England fourteen years before Robert Raikes started what some historians have called, the first in the world. The Christmas Conference of 1784 that established the Methodist Episcopal Church as an independent denomination instructed Methodist preachers, all unlearned men, to preach annually on education, and to those who insisted that they had no gift for this, the reply was, “Gift or no gift, you are to do it.” In North Carolina in 1780, Asbury raised the first money ever given for Methodist education in America, and in Virginia he promoted the Ebenezer Academy, which was established in 1784, three years before Cokesbury[2] College opened its doors. At the dedication of Bishop Asbury’s monument in Washington, D.C., President Calvin Coolidge, said, “How many institutions of learning, some of them rejoicing in the name of Wesleyan all trace their existence to the service and sacrifice of this lone circuit rider [Bishop Francis Asbury].” Following the example of John Wesley in England, Asbury founded the Arminian Magazine in 1789 in North Carolina; it did not survive long, but reappeared in 1818, and with some lapses and under different names it continues to survive to the present. Through Asbury and the Methodists, America became Arminian in its theology. Throughout the nineteenth century, Methodism in America became the largest Protestant denomination.

Related Articles

Benjamin Franklin Was Not a Secularist

Benjamin Franklin Was Not a Secularist

American Christianity | Christian Beliefs | Christian History | January Articles

Leaving the deism of his youth and the immorality it produced, Benjamin Franklin came to realize that the Calvinism of his youth was closer to reality than he had previously imagined.[1] Though never fully returning to this theological tradition in which he was raised, he realized that human government must reflect God's government of the world, and for this reason, secularists, atheists, agnostics, and the irreligious falsely attempt to lay clRead more...

Atheist Responsible for Shootings

Atheist Responsible for Shootings

American Christianity | Christian Beliefs | Christian History | Christian Living | Christian Worldview | Concepts of God | Other Than Christianity

One's beliefs necessarily determine one's behavior. Benjamin Franklin clearly understood this fact when he told Thomas Paine that atheism and agnosticism leads only to social anarchy: "If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it."[1] Paine, who consulted Franklin concerning political matters, had requested Franklin to review his Age of Reason before it was published. Franklin understood that left to determine his own moraRead more...

How We Got the Bible

How We Got the Bible

Bible | Christian Beliefs | Christian Living

In the early Christian Church, believers were forced to decide what books of Scripture they would be willing to die. If a book was not regarded as authoritative, conscience did not forbid them to surrender it to pagan authorities, but if a work was regarded as inspired and evidenced Divine authority, Christians were far less likely to part with it. Yet this was only one of the influences that gave rise to the development of the New Testament. TheRead more...

Atonement: Suffering in the Place of Another

Atonement: Suffering in the Place of Another

April Articles | Christian Beliefs | Christian Calendar | December Articles | Jesus Christ | March Articles | Salvation & Grace | Schedule Post

The doctrine of one suffering in the place of another for the forgiveness of sin (vicarious atonement) is one, generally speaking, that has been dismissed from the mind of the American Christian and remains a matter of ridicule for the secularist. Throughout the twentieth century, a sustained attack was waged against the teaching of the Bible concerning the doctrine of how one is permitted into a right relationship with God—known as the doctrine Read more...

House Speaker Robert Winthrop Defends the Bible

House Speaker Robert Winthrop Defends the Bible

American Christianity | Bible | Christian Beliefs | Christian History

Robert Charles Winthrop was an American lawyer, politician, and philanthropist who at one point in his political career rose to the office of Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Like most who lived during the Founding Era of the United States, Winthrop was concerned about the moral character of America's development. As was characteristic of many Founding Fathers, Winthrop involved himself in the advancement of Christianity in Read more...


[1]Asbury dedicated this church in 1810.

[2] “Cokesbury” is a combination of the last names of Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury, the first two American Methodist general superintendents or bishops.

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

* Francis Asbury *

Written by Dr. Stephen FlickNumber of posts: 195
Stephen Flick heads Christian Heritage Fellowship, a national organization dedicated to reclaiming America’s Christian Heritage and celebrating the life-changing influence of the Gospel around the world. Concerned with the cultural decay of America, Dr. Flick has sought to provide answers to fellow Christians (and unbelievers) concerning the questions and objections to Christianity often posed by secularists and the irreligious. Dr. Flick is a writer and speaker and has authored numerous articles and books on America’s Christian heritage. He earned his Ph.D. from Drew University in history and Christian theology and has taught at the graduate level as full professor. He has been a licensed minster for nearly forty years and resides in East Tennessee with his wife, Beth. They have two grown, married children and five grandchildren.
Scroll to Top

Send this to a friend

Hi, this may be interesting you: America's Bishop: Francis Asbury! This is the link: http://christianheritagefellowship.com/americas-bishop-francis-asbury/