Francis Asbury and George Whitefield, Evangelists, 1816, 1770
November 15, 2010 16 Comments
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About the Commemoration
Two of the great figures to emerge from out of the religious fervor of colonial and post-revolutionary America, George Whitefield and Francis Asbury, shared a common tie to the Methodist movement of John Wesley.
George Whitefield entered Pembroke College, Oxford as a servitor, one unable to pay tuition and who thus served higher ranked students in exchange for free tuition. There he came under the influence of John and Charles Wesley and was a member of the “Holy Club.” In 1736, he was ordained a deacon, and in 1738, he followed John Wesley to Savannah, Georgia. He returned to England in 1739 to obtain priest’s orders to raise funds for his Bethesda orphanage in Georgia.His preaching attracted a wide following in England, Wales, and Scotland. Whitefield, who subscribed to the Calvinist position then prevalent in the Church of England, broke with the Wesleys, the latter being theologically drawn to Arminianism. Whitefield formed and was president of the first Methodist conference, but left that position after a short time to focus on evangelistic efforts.
Whitefield returned to America several times, and his preaching sparked the Great Awakening of 1740. Whitefield preached to thousands throughout the colonies, riding from New York to Charleston on horseback.
Like Whitefield, Francis Asbury was also renowned for his preaching, and also like Whitefield, he rode many miles on horseback each year and preached throughout the colonies. Asbury was sent to America by John Wesley in 1771 and was the only Methodist minister to remain in America when the War for Independence broke out. When the newly independent Methodist Episcopal Church was formed, he and Thomas Coke served as its first two bishops.
Like his mentor John Wesley, Asbury preached in courthouses, public houses, tobacco fields, or wherever a large crowd could be gathered to hear him. Among those he ordained was Richard Allen (March 26), the former slave and founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
I. Holy God, who didst so inspire Francis Asbury and George Whitefield with evangelical zeal that their faithful proclamation of the Gospel caused a Great Awakening among those who heard them: Inspire us, we pray, by thy Holy Spirit, that, like them, we may be eager to share thy Good News and lead many to Jesus Christ, in whom is eternal life and peace; and who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
II. Holy God, you so inspired Francis Asbury and George Whitefield with evangelical zeal that their faithful proclamation of the Gospel caused a Great Awakening among those who heard them: Inspire us, we pray, by your Holy Spirit, that, like them, we may be eager to share your Good News and lead many to Jesus Christ, in whom is eternal life and peace; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 5:13b–24
Preface of the Epiphany