Oct 04, 2021

Methodists in the U.S. 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. 

John Wigger

The Oct. 30-31 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, Oct. 30, with a banquet and keynote address by John Wigger, noted historian and author of American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists. An ensemble of the Philadelphia UM Mass Choir will perform music. And 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

Bishop John Schol, episcopal leader of the Greater New Jersey and Eastern PA conferences, 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.

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 UMC’s General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH) is partnering with the Eastern PA Conference and Historic St. George’s UMC to plan the affair, led by General Secretary Ashley Boggan Dreff and the agency’s two previous general secretaries, the Revs. Fred Day and Robert 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) are also celebrating the 250th anniversary of Asbury’s voyage to America, led by the British Church’s Heritage Commission.

Additional events marking Asbury’s launch crossing from Pill, in Bristol, to America have included a musical concert Sept. 11, featuring the band Magpie22, and worship Sept. 12 at the New Room in Bristol, UK. That service was led by the Rev. Jonathan Pye, Bristol District Chair, with Barbara Easton, Vice-President of the MCB Conference participating. 

Also, media programs reflecting on the sestercentennial (250th anniversary) are being released weekly over the period coinciding with Asbury’s voyage across the Atlantic Ocean (Sept.10 to Oct. 30).

The programs feature various aspects of Asbury’s legacy—his journaling as a spiritual practice, his response to the call to ministry, his experiences with itinerancy and rural ministry, and the legacy of the historic Christmas Conference where the American Methodist Church was established and Asbury was made its first bishop. Other podcasts may explore John Wesley and Francis Asbury as influential Methodist leaders, and the involvement of Asbury and early Methodists in the denomination’s continuing conundrum with race and racism.  

To Participate In Asbury Crossing Events:

IN PERSON ATTENDANCE

October 30-31 at Historic St. George’s UMC
(235 N. 4th St., Philadelphia, PA)
Register Online: https://na.eventscloud.com/asbury

FREE PARKING at The Arch Street Meeting House
(320 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA)
Free shuttle to Historic St. George’s (3 blocks)

OVERIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS at Wyndham Old City, 400 Arch St., Phila., PA 19106
Make Reservations: https://book.passkey.com/e/50230137

WATCH ONLINE

October 30-31
Historic St. George’s UMC
Will be recorded and viewable online, after the event, at
http://gcah.org/resources/celebrating-asburys-voyage-to-the-americas-250-years-ago