Celebrating Asbury’s Voyage to the Americas 250 Years Ago
Featured Celebrating Asbury’s Voyage to the Americas 250 Years Ago
By John W. Coleman
Methodists in the US and in Great Britain will simultaneously commemorate the 250th anniversary of the voyage and arrival of American Methodism’s first bishop, Francis Asbury, who journeyed here from our mother country in October, 1771. He was sent by Methodism’s founder John Wesley to organize the new church in the British colonies.
The Oct. 30-31, 2021 celebration at Historic St. George’s UMC in Philadelphia will feature a banquet and program Saturday, Oct. 30, at 2-4 PM, and a special commemorative worship service on Sunday, Oct. 31, at 10 AM. "The Asbury Crossing: Responding to Call" celebration begins on Saturday with a banquet and keynote address by John Wigger, noted historian and author of American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists. The Philadelphia UM Mass Choir, conducted by the Rev. Eric Carr, will perform. Historical actor Peyton Dixon, who performs in St. George’s popular "Time Traveler" programs, will offer a dramatic portrayal of Francis Asbury.
Bishop John Schol, episcopal leader of the Greater New Jersey Conference and also of the Eastern PA Conference beginning Sept. 1, will preach during Sunday’s worship celebration. Bishop Cynthia Fiero Harvey, President of the UMC Council of Bishops, will help celebrate Holy Communion using the historic Wesley Chalice. And Bishop Sally Dyck of the council’s Ecumenical Office will attend, along with representatives from UMC general agencies and the Methodist Church in Britain. Other invited guests may include leaders from the African Methodist Episcopal Church and other groups related to Methodism’s history. All are welcome to attend the celebration. The registration fee is $25, and scholarships may be available.
The UMC’s General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH) is partnering with the Eastern PA Conference to plan the affair, led by General Secretary Ashley Boggan Dreff and the agency’s two previous general secretaries, the Rev. Drs. Alfred T. Day III and Robert J. Williams. Members of archives and history commissions and historical societies in Eastern PA and neighboring conferences, among other groups, are invited to participate.
Members of the Methodist Church in Britain (MCB) will also celebrate the 250th anniversary of Asbury’s voyage to America and view our celebration via livestream video. The British Church’s Heritage Committee is collaborating in the joint planning.
Additional events marking Asbury’s launch crossing from Pill, Bristol to America are being planned. Included are a musical concert featuring the band Magpie22 on September 11 and special worship service at The New Room in Bristol, UK September 12, led by the Rev. Jonathan Pye, Bristol District Chair with Vice President of the MCB Conference Barbara Easton participating. Also reflections will be released weekly over the period coinciding with Asbury’s voyage across the Atlantic Ocean (September 10 - October 30).
More detailed information, invitations and registration are forthcoming.