Francis Asbury and Palatine Methodists

Francis Asbury and the Palatines

Asbury Moonlit Approach Courtesy of B.L. Fischer Library, Asbury Theological Seminary

Asbury Moonlit Approach
Painting by Richard G. Douglas Courtesy of B.L. Fischer Library, Asbury Theological Seminary

Francis Asbury was a citizen of the West-Midlands of England. Although none of his early preaching circuits in England involved Francis Asbury traveling to Ireland, he eventually interacted with the Methodist worshipers from the Palatine settlements in County Limerick, Ireland, when he set foot in the English colonies of America. His initial dealings with the New York Palatines and the Maryland Palatines involved a slight confrontation. In New York, the German transplants from Ireland had abandoned the disciple-building class and band meetings. In Maryland, Francis Asbury came face to face with the fiery, Robert Strawbridge, a preacher who had much success in spreading the Gospel, but a preacher who would not submit to the dictates of John Wesley and the forgoing of issuing the sacraments to the faithful. Despite this rebellion, Robert Strawbridge’s success can be attributed to the blessings of God through the strict adherence to the class and band meetings. Undoubtedly, Francis Asbury was pleased with this latter development.

Philip Embury

Philip Embury

In New York, Francis Asbury interacted with the Philip Embury Palatines. Philip Embury, along with the help of a woman by the name of Barbara Heck, set out to reestablish the Methodist society that was previously in existence when last all lived in County Limerick, Ireland. Their efforts were largely successful in establishing the John Wesley Chapel in Manhattan, also known as the John Street Church. By the time of Francis Asbury’s visit, the church swelled to nearly seven-hundred members of European and African decent.

Robert Strawbridge

Robert Strawbridge

In Maryland, Francis Asbury’s first interaction with Robert Strawbridge occurred on November 17, 1772, thirteen months after the arrival of Francis Asbury in America. The slightly rebellious reputation of Robert Strawbridge was known by Francis Asbury early in his American ministry. Within a few months of his arrival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Francis Asbury had heard the stories of Robert Strawbridge’s rebellion and uniquely, the successes of the ministry of Robert Strawbridge. Francis eventually experienced both. The former he allowed, most likely based on the evident success of the ministerial efforts of Robert Strawbridge.

For more on this fascinating subject, please visit the My Methodist History page. You can also find the detailed article on The Asbury Triptych Series page for this subject. There, you will find much more detail about the Palatine Methodist history in Ireland and their history in America.


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