The Richmond History Podcast

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Francis Asbury in Richmond, VA

Francis Asbury came to the American colonies in 1771 1. John Wesley one of the founders of Methodism2 recognized him as the father of American Methodists.  Asbury spent the last 45 years of his life spreading Methodism through out America.  If you don't know who Francis is you may be either not a Methodist or not a theology student/ graduate (to the best of my knowledge, I am neither).

I only heard of him because he has a beautiful plaque on Franklin St. & 19th St. in Richmond, VA and I looked it up.

Photo by Jeff Majer

it reads:

To the glory of God
and in grateful memory of
Francis Asbury
Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church
in America

An apostle whose only home was his saddle,
his parish the continent.
With fervent love for his Lord and a zeal that never flagged
this lifelong missionary sought the people
in the van of the advancing pioneers,
made strong the moral foundations of the Commonwealth,
and built up the Kingdom of God.

Carried from his bed, frail and spent,
to the Methodist church which stood on this spot
he preached, March 24, 1816, his last sermon.

Happy if with my latest breath
I may but gasp His name;
Preach Him to all and cry in death
“Behold, behold the Lamb!”

Dedicated by the Methodists of Richmond, Virginia, October 27, 1921,
The one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his landing in America.

To me that sounds like he gave his last sermon there on his death bed and then was taken to Spotslvania County where he died.1
I haven't found much about this dramatic speech.  Please see the comments for details and leave one if you have any more.




3. Religion can be a touchy subject, I  mean no offense.

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  1. Asbury indeed preached his last sermon here. Frail and sickly, he had to be carried in a chair to the platform, where he preached for an hour with gasping breath. He died one week later at the home of George Arnold in VA. His riding companion, John Wesley Bond, noted that Asbury lifted his hand toward heaven "with an expression which I will never forget. He then without a groan or complaint, fell asleep in the arms of his Savior..."

  2. That story is amazing and I wonder if many people that even live in the building know about. The Civil War has such a large shadow here in Richmond, VA. Apparently things did happen before and after that war.
    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Jeff, I hope this link works. The complete journal of Asbury is available for free on Google Books. If it works, this link should take you to the end of Vol. 3, to Francis Hollingsworth's "A Short Account of His Death."