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American Saint Francis Asbury and the Methodists$
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John Wigger

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195387803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195387803.001.0001

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A New Church in a New Nation

A New Church in a New Nation

(p.139) 8 A New Church in a New Nation
American Saint Francis Asbury and the Methodists

John Wigger (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

American Methodism expanded dramatically in the 1780s, built on the consolidation Asbury brought to the movement after the war. Membership rose from 8,500 in 1780 to 57,600 in 1790 and the number of preaching circuits increased from twenty-one to ninety-eight. To provide leadership and the sacraments for American Methodism, John Wesley began ordaining preachers in 1784. He ordained Thomas Coke a superintendent for America, much to the chagrin of Charles Wesley. Coke then ordained Asbury at the so-called Christmas conference in December 1784, where the American preachers voted to create the independent Methodist Episcopal Church in America. The Christmas conference also voted to expand the rules against Methodists holding slaves, though these rules were rolled back six months later. The church also sent unsuccessful antislavery petitions to the Virginia Assembly. Coke and Asbury meanwhile began the process of constructing Cokesbury College in Abingdon, Maryland.

Keywords:   antislavery petitions, Christmas conference, circuits, Thomas Coke, Cokesbury College, membership, Methodist Episcopal Church, superintendent, Charles Wesley

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