Asbury United Methodist Church
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Reach Up, Reach In, Reach Out

History


The roots of Asbury United Methodist Church extend from the beginning of Methodism in Savannah, when John Wesley arrived and developed missions and chapels. John Wesley was one of the most influential Christian leaders in history. He began his teachings in London, England, and at the request of General Oglethorpe brought his beliefs and doctrines to the new colony of Savannah, Georgia.

Francis Asbury was sent by John Wesley to perform the Methodist liturgy all over America, thus the circuit rider was born. The circuit rider was a traveling preacher who would preach to anyone who would listen. In December 1784, Francis Asbury was named bishop of the Episcopal Church of America.

During the next four decades he preached almost 20,000 sermons and rode over a quarter of a million miles across American on horseback. Following the disruption of the Civil War, a small group of blacks continued services without affiliation with any major body. In 1870, one group of Black Methodists purchased Andrew Chapel of Gwinnett Street near West Broad Street and named it for Francis Asbury, founding father of the American Methodist Church. On July 24, 1871, the Savannah Morning News reported the formal transfer of the church to the “colored” congregation of the Methodist Church in America. This congregation moved from Gwinnett Street to its present location at 1201 Abercorn Street in 1927.

During the period from 1871-1927, many accomplishments and improvements were made under the leadership of many strong pastors: Rev. L.W. Johnson, Dr. C.K. Wright (1882-1885), Rev. P.H. Travis (1885-1889), Rev. J. Jackson (1900-1905), Rev. W.V. Daughtry, Rev. J.A. Richie, Rev. Rakestraw (1924-1929), and Rev. E.M. Hurley (1927-1928).

Rev. J.W. Keller, Rev. J.L. Garrison, Rev. Robert F. Harrington, and Rev. Amos Holmes all served our church well during the late 1930s through the 1940s. Rev. L. Scott Allen served the church for six years; other pastors that served were Rev. J.H. Taggart (1948-1956), Rev. George Walker (1957-1961), Rev. P. Harold Gray (1961-1969), Rev. Calvin Lawton (1969-1971), Rev. Lorenzo Williams (1971-1973), and Rev. Edward Ducree (1974-1977). These men were powerful ministers also, and the major focus has always been adding souls for Christ. Major projects included acquiring the present location at 1201 Abercorn Street, acquiring parsonages, and installing stained glass windows.

In recent years, Rev. Lenton Powell served the church from 1977-1996, Rev. Thomas Mills served from 1996-2001, Rev. Douglas Force served from 2001-2003, Rev. Thomas Norman served from 2003-2005, Rev. Beverly Flowers served from 2005-2012, and our current pastor Rev. Doreen Smalls has been serving since 2012. Evidence of much Christian work has been done by these inspirational leaders. Significant improvements were made to the church’s edifice, the membership increased, and many more ministries were activated.

The Asbury family is proud of our church and history. We are determined to always remain faithful to the call of God and to build up His kingdom, “on earth as it is in heaven.” As we continue to work to win souls for Christ, we ask God’s help as well, to “reach up, reach in, and reach out.”