“Francis Asbury: A Simple Life to Follow” - Dr. John Morley

January 16, 2017

On top of an indiscriminate hill tucked on the back side of an unassuming old cemetery in downtown Baltimore, there is a simple marble marker with “ASBURY” spelled out on it. Not many local folks who walk by this place today have heard of this humble servant and probably have no idea the debt our country owes to this man. Not even many in the Methodist Church could tell you much about her first bishop. However, because of his commitment to continually be on the road preaching his itinerant circuit, there was a time that Francis Asbury may very well have been the most recognized man in America. This lowly preacher was so loved and respected that when Asbury’s remains were moved to this final resting place, a crowd of well over ten thousand people gathered to pay their respects to this hero of the faith in America.

President Calvin Coolidge would later attest to this circuit rider’s significance at the unveiling of a Francis Asbury statue in Washington, DC.  

Who shall say where his influence, written upon the immortal souls of men, shall end?  How many temples of worship dot our landscape; how many institutions of learning, some of them rejoicing in the name of Wesleyan, all trace the inspiration of their existence to the sacrifice and service of this lone circuit rider! He is entitled to rank as one of the builders of our nation.

A powerful testimony spoken about one humble “prophet of the long road” who was simply following after God’s heart. One writer surmised Asbury’s ministry as “slogging,” which meant he basically kept on keeping on, no matter the infirmity, distance traveled on horseback, war, and rumors of war, weather, and even age. He kept on going. Although he preached thousands of sermons, it was Francis Asbury’s commitment and zeal for the Lord that drew people to Christ and caused this sojourner to press on. As Asburians, this is who we are called to be today as we follow after Francis Asbury’s belief, “We should so work as if we were to be saved by our works; and so rely on Jesus Christ, as if we did no works.”

CORNERSTONE:  MISSION

- Dr. John Morley, Coordinator of InReach Programs

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