Early Leaders

There were many early church leaders of the United Methodist Church in addition to John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield . It was a church that was built by Laity and Clergy working together and then became the largest Protestant Church in America by the early 1900’s.

Table of Contents:

Rev George Whitefield, Bishop Francis Asbury, Bishop Thomas Cook, Philip Embury, Joseph Albright, Barbara Heck, Thomas Webb, Jesse Lee, Philip Otterbein and Martin Boehm. These are only a few of the people who were influential in the building of the United Methodist Church into what it is today.  Whitfield

 

George Whitefield while at Oxford, he fell in with a group of pious “methodists”—who called themselves “the Holy Club”—led by the Wesley brothers, John and Charles. Under their influence, he experienced a “new birth” and decided to become a missionary to the new Georgia colony on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

When the voyage was delayed, Whitefield was ordained a deacon in the Anglican church and began preaching around London. He was surprised to discover that wherever he spoke, crowds materialized and hung on every word.

These were no ordinary sermons. He portrayed the lives of biblical characters with a realism no one had seen before. He cried, he danced, he screamed. Among the enthralled was David Garrick, then the most famous actor in Britain. “I would give a hundred guineas,” he said, “if I could say ‘Oh’ like Mr. Whitefield.”

Once, when preaching on eternity, he suddenly stopped his message, looked around, and exclaimed, “Hark! Methinks I hear [the saints] chanting their everlasting hallelujahs, and spending an eternal day in echoing forth triumphant songs of joy. And do you not long, my brethren, to join this heavenly choir?”

Whitefield eventually made it to Georgia but stayed for only three months. When he returned to London, he found many churches closed to his unconventional methods. He then experimented with outdoor, extemporaneous preaching, where no document or wooden pulpit stood between him and his audience.

Spellbound crowds

In 1739, Whitefield set out for a preaching tour of the American colonies. Whitefield selected Philadelphia—the most cosmopolitan city in the New World—as his first American stop. But even the largest churches could not hold the 8,000 who came to see him, so he took them outdoors. Every stop along Whitefield’s trip was marked by record audiences, often exceeding the population of the towns in which he preached. Whitefield was often surprised at how crowds “so scattered abroad, can be gathered at so short a warning.”

The crowds were also aggressive in spirit. As one account tells it, crowds “elbowed, shoved, and trampled over themselves to hear of ‘divine things’ from the famed Whitefield.”

Once Whitefield started speaking, however, the frenzied mobs were spellbound. “Even in London,” Whitefield remarked, “I never observed so profound a silence.”

Though mentored by the Wesleys, Whitefield set his own theological course: he was a convinced Calvinist. His main theme was the necessity of the “new birth,” by which he meant a conversion experience. He never pleaded with people to convert, but only announced, and dramatized, his message.

Jonathan Edwards’s wife, Sarah, remarked, “He makes less of the doctrines than our American preachers generally do and aims more at affecting the heart. He is a born orator. A prejudiced person, I know, might say that this is all theatrical artifice and display, but not so will anyone think who has seen and known him.”

Whitefield also made the slave community a part of his revivals, though he was far from an abolitionist. Nonetheless, he increasingly sought out audiences of slaves and wrote on their behalf. The response was so great that some historians date it as the genesis of African-American Christianity.

Everywhere Whitefield preached, he collected support for an orphanage he had founded in Georgia during his brief stay there in 1738, though the orphanage left him deep in debt for most of his life.

The spiritual revival he ignited, the Great Awakening, became one of the most formative events in American history. His last sermon on this tour was given at Boston Commons before 23,000 people, likely the largest gathering in American history up to that point.

“Scenes of uncontrollable distress”

Whitefield next set his sights on Scotland, to which he would make 14 visits in his life. His most dramatic visit was his second, when he visited the small town of Cambuslang, which was already undergoing a revival. His evening service attracted thousands and continued until 2:00 in the morning. “There were scenes of uncontrollable distress, like a field of battle. All night in the fields, might be heard the voice of prayer and praise.” Whitefield concluded, “It far outdid all that I ever saw in America.”

On Saturday, Whitefield, in concert with area pastors, preached to an estimated 20,000 people in services that stretched well into the night. The following morning, more than 1,700 communicants streamed alongside long Communion tables set up in tents. Everywhere in the town, he recalled, “you might have heard persons praying to and praising God.”

Cultural hero

With every trip across the Atlantic, he became more popular. Indeed, much of the early controversy that surrounded Whitefield’s revivals disappeared (critics complained of the excess enthusiasm of both preacher and crowds), and former foes warmed to a mellowed Whitefield.

Before his tours of the colonies were complete, virtually every man, woman, and child had heard the “Grand Itinerant” at least once. So pervasive was Whitefield’s impact in America that he can justly be styled America’s first cultural hero.

Whitefield’s lifelong successes in the pulpit were not matched in his private family life. Like many itinerants of his day, Whitefield was suspicious of marriage and feared a wife would become a rival to the pulpit. When he finally married an older widow, Elizabeth James, the union never seemed to flower into a deeply intimate, sharing relationship.

In 1770, the 55-year-old continued his preaching tour in the colonies as if he were still a young itinerant, insisting, “I would rather wear out than rust out.” He ignored the danger signs, in particular asthmatic “colds” that brought “great difficulty” in breathing. His last sermon took place in the fields, atop a large barrel.

“He was speaking of the inefficiency of works to merit salvation,” one listener recounted for the press, “and suddenly cried out in a tone of thunder, ‘Works! works! A man gets to heaven by works! I would as soon think of climbing to the moon on a rope of sand.'”

The following morning he died.

Whitefield, more than any other, turned an awakening into the Great Awakening.

 

Bishop Francis AsburyCarryingTheBook640

“Under the rush of Francis Ashbury’s voice, people sprang to their feet as if summoned to the judgment bar of God.”
— Biographer Ezra Tipple

Some today might call him a workaholic. Or maybe just utterly dedicated. English-born Francis Asbury certainly had the numbers: during his 45-year ministry in America, he traveled on horseback or in carriage an estimated 300,000 miles, delivering some 16,500 sermons. He was so well-known in America that letters addressed to “Bishop Asbury, United States of America” delivered to him.

Rapid ordination

Asbury was born into a working-class Anglican family; he dropped out of school before he was 12 to work as a blacksmith’s apprentice. By the time he was 14, he had been “awakened” in the Christian faith.

He and his mother attended Methodist meetings, where soon he began to preach; he was appointed a full-time Methodist preacher by the time he was 21. In 1771, at a gathering of Methodist ministers, John Wesley asked, “Our brethren in America call aloud for help. Who are willing to go over and help them?” Asbury volunteered.

When in October 1771, Asbury landed in Philadelphia, there were only 600 Methodists in America. Within days, he hit the road preaching but pushed himself so hard that he fell ill that winter. This was the beginning of a pattern: over the next 45 years, he suffered from colds, coughs, fevers, severe headaches, ulcers, and eventually chronic rheumatism, which forced him off his horse and into a carriage. Yet he continued to preach.

During the Revolutionary War, Asbury remained politically neutral. To avoid signing an oath disclaiming his allegiance to England and to dodge the American draft, he went into hiding for several months. “I am considered by some as an enemy,” he wrote, “liable to be seized by violence and abused.” By war’s end, he had retained his credibility with the victorious Americans and was able to continue his ministry among them.

After the war, John Wesley ordained Englishman Thomas Coke as Wesley’s American superintendent. Coke, in turn, ordained Asbury at the famous Bcaptionimore “Christmas Conference” of 1784, which gave birth to the American Methodist Episcopal Church. On Christmas Day, Asbury was ordained a deacon, the following day, an elder, and on December 27, a superintendent (against Wesley’s advice, Asbury later used the term “bishop”). As Coke put it, “We were in great haste and did much business in a little time.” Within six months, Coke returned to England, and thereafter, Asbury held the reins of American Methodism.

Organizational man

Organization was Asbury’s gift. He created “districts” of churches, each of which would be served by circuit riders—preachers who traveled from church to church to preach and minister, especially in rural areas. In the late 1700s, 95 percent of Americans lived in places with fewer than 2,500 inhabitants, and thus most did not have access to church or clergy.

This is one reason Asbury pushed for missionary expansion into the Tennessee and Kentucky frontier—even though his and other preachers’ lives were constantly threatened by illness and Indian attacks. According to biographer Ezra Tipple, Asbury’s preaching was more zeal than art, and highly effective.

The names of Phillip Embury and Barbara Heck must ever be prominently associated with the founding of Methodism in the United States and Canada, and also in connection with early Methodism in Ireland. The story has often been told and yet it may be new to many readers of The Beaver – the young especially – and therefore it is worth the repeating here.
They were of the well known German-Irish Palatines, of whom there are many descendants in this Province and in this county today, and all such may be proud of their descent. These Palatines were driven from their native land because of religious persecution – being Protestants – and found refuge in Great Britain during the days of good Queen Anne, and many of them located in Ireland where they enjoyed liberty of conscience. The historian, the late Rev. Dr. Abel Stevens, thus refers to them in an excellent sketch of Barbara Heck:
“John Wesley passed through the county of Limerick, Ireland, in 1758, preaching night and day. He records in his Journal that he met there an extraordinary community, settled in Court Mattress and in Killibeen Balligarrane, and Pallas villages within 4 miles of Court Mattress. They were not native Celts, but a Teutonic population. Having been nearly half a century without pastors who could speak their language, they had become thoroughly demoralized; noted for drunkenness, profanity and utter neglect of religion. But the early Methodist itinerants had penetrated their hamlets and they are now reformed, a devout people. They erected a large chapel in the centre of Court Mattress. At later visits Mr. Wesley declares that three such courts were hardly to be found anywhere else in Ireland or England. There was “no cursing or swearing, no Sabbath breaking, no drunkenness, no ale house in any of them. They had become a serious thinking people, and their diligence had turned all their land into a garden.”
There was quite a large emigration of these people to New York in 1760, and among them were Philip Embury, then a local preacher, his two brothers, Paul Heck, and Barbara Ruckie, his wife, some of the Switzers, Dulmages, Millers, Huffs, and members of other families whose descendants are now quite numerous in this part of Canada. an Irish writer thus graphically refers to the departure of these people:
“On a spring morning of 1760, a group of emigrants might have been seen at the custom house quay, at Limerick, preparing to embark for America. At that time emigration was not so common an occurrence as it is now, and the excitement in connection with the departure was intense. They were Palatines from Balligarrane, and were accompanied to the vessel’s side by crowds of their companions and friends, some of whom had come sixteen miles to say “farewell’ for the last time. One of those about to leave was a young man of thoughtful look and resolute bearing, evidently the leader of the party, Philip Embury. In their humble chapel he had often ministered to them the word of life. He enters the vessel, and from its side once more breaks to them the bread of life. His party consisted of his wife, Mary Switzer, to whom he had been married on the — of November 1758; two of his brothers and their families; Peter Switzer, probably a brother of his wife; Paul and Barbara Heck; Valer Tettler, Philip Morgan, and a family of the Dulmages. The vessel arrived safely in New York on the 10th of August, 1760.

FOUNDING AMERICAN METHODISM

Abel Stevens writes: “Who among the crowd that saw them leave could have thought that two of the little band were destined, in the mysterious providence of God, to influence for good countless myriads, and that their names should live as long as the sun and moon endure? That vessel contained Philip Embury, the first Class-leader and local preacher of Methodism on the continent, and Barbara Heck, a mother in Israel, one of its first members, the germ from which, in the good providence of God, has sprung the great Methodist Episcopal church of the United States,” now the largest and most influential of all the Protestant churches of that great nation.

The story of the founding of the first Methodist society in New York and America has often been told. New York, now the largest city in America and one of the largest of the entire world, was then but a small town, with a population of about 20,000 and there were but about three millions of white people in all that part of America now constituting the United States. For five years the Palatines had no regular minister of their own and, they became greatly demoralized. Barbara Heck became deeply distressed at this state of things and finally went to Philip Embury and on her knees earnestly implored him to preach to them. “God will require our blood at your hands, if you do not,” was her impassioned words. It was then agreed that on the Sunday following he should preach in his own house, which he did and a class was at once formed. His preachings soon became popular and his house became too small. Then a sail-loft was rented and soon it became crowded. Then arrangements were made, and the historic John Street Methodist Church of New York – the first of its kind in America was built – largely through the instrumentality of Barbara Heck and Philip Embury. Embury preached the first sermon in it, was one of its first trustees, its first class leader and for a time its only preacher. Two years later Mr. Wesley sent from England two missionaries who were the first ordained preachers of the denomination in America.

Philip Embury was a carpenter and depended on his trade for the maintenance of his family. With his own hands the John street church was largely built. He was “fervent in spirit,” however, as a local preacher and thus he built up the first congregation. In 1770 he moved from New York, north west of where the city of Troy is now located, between the Hudson river, and Lake Champlain. Paul and Barbara Heck moved with them. There again they formed the first Methodist class and the locality has been a strong hold for the denomination ever since. There he died suddenly in 1775. There he was a local preacher and a magistrate. Later on his widow married John Lawrence, who was with them in New York, and was a member of the first congregation and first class there.

At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Paul and Barbara Heck, the Emburys and Lawrences moved to Canada, and lived for some years in Montreal and other parts of Lower Canada. In 1785, they moved to the township of Augusta, in Grenville county, in the third concession, where again they established a Methodist class with Samuel Embury, a son of the late Phillip as its leader. Though it was not regularly formed, according to discipline, there being no ordained minister in the country, no doubt this is the first planting of a Methodist class in Upper Canada. That was the year following the first arrival of the U.E. Loyalists from the states along the shores of the St. Lawrence and the Bay of Quinte.

When William Losee, the first Methodist preacher, came first to Upper Canada in 1790, there is a record that he preached to the Methodists of Augusta on his way from crossing the St. Lawrence, about St. Regis, before he reached Adolphustown, which was then his destination. There is a record, too, that a chapel was built there at a very early time, but a just what date does not now appear to be known.

   Barbara Heck

BarbHeck

Barbara Heck, a Methodist from Ireland, believed that it was a sin to fritter time. When she returned home from an errand one day to find a game of cards in progress in her home, it was too much. Her family well-knew that she thought cards frivolous and sinful–a worldly amusement! She chewed out the players, flung the offending pack of cards into the fireplace, and fell on her knees in prayer. Then she told Philip Embury that he must preach.

Philip was well-known to the Hecks. In fact, Barbara was his cousin and both families had emigrated from Ireland, although Barbara came over a year later than Philip. In the old world, Philip had been a Methodist preacher. When he arrived in America on this day, August 11, 1760, he was the first Methodist preacher to settle in Britain’s American colonies. Since then, he had been too busy scraping out a living in New York to take up church work, although he held family devotions and attended Lutheran services. However, the little group of Methodists had lost their thirst for divine things and grown spiritually lukewarm.

Barbara saw the danger. But Philip took some convincing. “I cannot preach, for I have neither a house nor congregation.”

“Preach in your own house first, and to our own company,” said Barbara.

Philip gave in and preached his first sermon, to five people, in his own rented house. This is believed to be the first Methodist sermon preached in America. Embury held services every Thursday evening and twice on Sunday.

The five people increased. Soon the congregation had to rent a large room. Rumors about the Methodists helped the church grow, because some of the people who came to investigate them were impressed and joined. A Methodist military man who had been converted in Bristol, England under John Wesley’s preaching, also joined Philip. This Captain Webb was a bold evangelist and began to speak to the neighbors and in the soldiers’ barracks and rum shops near where the Methodists rented their hall.

Standing in his scarlet uniform, Webb proclaimed “that all their knowledge andreligion were not worth a rush, unless their sins were forgiven, and they had the witness of God’s Spirit with theirs that they were the children of God.”

The little Methodist society began to grow. Eventually it built a church. One of the members wrote a letter to John Wesley, describing the situation and asking for legal advice on how to deed the land. Noting that Embury and Webb lacked training, he added, “We want an able and experienced preacher; one who has both gifts and grace necessary for the work.” This prompted Wesley to send his first Methodist missionaries to America.

“John Wesley passed through the county of Limerick, Ireland, in 1758, preaching night and day. He records in his Journal that he met there an extraordinary community, settled in Court Mattress and in Killibeen Balligarrane, and Pallas villages within 4 miles of Court Mattress. They were not native Celts, but a Teutonic population. Having been nearly half a century without pastors who could speak their language, they had become thoroughly demoralized; noted for drunkenness, profanity and utter neglect of religion. But the early Methodist itinerants had penetrated their hamlets and they are now reformed, a devout people. They erected a large chapel in the centre of Court Mattress. At later visits Mr. Wesley declares that three such courts were hardly to be found anywhere else in Ireland or England. There was “no cursing or swearing, no Sabbath breaking, no drunkenness, no ale house in any of them. They had become a serious thinking people, and their diligence had turned all their land into a garden.”

There was quite a large emigration of these people to New York in 1760, and among them were Philip Embury, then a local preacher, his two brothers, Paul Heck, and Barbara Ruckie, his wife, some of the Switzers, Dulmages, Millers, Huffs, and members of other families whose descendants are now quite numerous in this part of Canada. an Irish writer thus graphically refers to the departure of these people:

“On a spring morning of 1760, a group of emigrants might have been seen at the custom house quay, at Limerick, preparing to embark for America. At that time emigration was not so common an occurrence as it is now, and the excitement in connection with the departure was intense. They were Palatines from Balligarrane, and were accompanied to the vessel’s side by crowds of their companions and friends, some of whom had come sixteen miles to say “farewell’ for the last time. One of those about to leave was a young man of thoughtful look and resolute bearing, evidently the leader of the party, Philip Embury. In their humble chapel he had often ministered to them the word of life. He enters the vessel, and from its side once more breaks to them the bread of life. His party consisted of his wife, Mary Switzer, to whom he had been married on the — of November 1758; two of his brothers and their families; Peter Switzer, probably a brother of his wife; Paul and Barbara Heck; Valer Tettler, Philip Morgan, and a family of the Dulmages. The vessel arrived safely in New York on the 10th of August, 1760.ilt. He was “fervent in spirit,” however, as a local preacher and thus he built up the first congregation. In 1770 he moved from New York, north west of where the city of Troy is now located, between the Hudson river, and Lake Champlain. Paul and Barbara Heck moved with them. There again they formed the first Methodist class and the locality has been a strong hold for the denomination ever since. There he died suddenly in 1775. There he was a local preacher and a magistrate. Later on his widow married John Lawrence, who was with them in New York, and was a member of the first congregation and first class there.

Thomas Webb

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CAPTAIN THOMAS WEBB

By Duane V. Maxey

The First Apostle of American Methodism

Francis Asbury was the key human instrument used of God for the early spread and organization

of Methodism in America. Stirred by that pious “Mother in Israel,” Barbara Heck, Philip Embury

became the pastor of the first Methodist Society in America, and his John Street Church was soon

after followed by the Log Meeting-house of Robert Strawbridge. Thus, Barbara Heck, Philip

Embury, and Robert Strawbridge were very much involved in the planting of Methodism in America.

However, the recognition of being the primary human instrument in the planting of Methodism on

this continent should, perhaps, go to Captain Thomas Webb. He, it appears, can be accurately called:

“The First Apostle of American Methodism.”

Methodist historian Abel Stevens says: “To Embury unquestionably belongs chronological

precedence, by a few months, as the founder of American Methodism, but to Webb belongs the

honor of a more prominent agency in the great event; of more extensive and more effective services;

of the outspread of the denomination into Long Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware; the

erection of its first chapels, and the introduction of Wesleyan itinerants. Aside from the mere

question of priority, he must be considered the principal founder of the American Methodist Church

… He devoted at least nine years to the promotion of American Methodism, the periods of his

absence in Europe being spent there in its behalf. I have not hesitated to pronounce him the principal

founder of the denomination in the United States. No trace of his life can, therefore, fail to be

interesting to American readers.”

His Birth, First Visit to America, and Loss of His Right Eye

Thomas Webb was born about 1724. He became a Captain in the English army, and came to this

continent where he served under General Wolfe. During the siege and battle of Louisburg [1758-9]

He lost his right eye: “A ball hit him on the bone which guards the right eye, and taking an oblique

direction, burst the eyeball, and passing through the palate into his mouth, he swallowed it. His only

recollection was a flash of light, which accompanied the destruction of the eye. The wounded were

put into a boat, and having crossed the water, all were assisted to land excepting Webb, of whom one

of the men said, ‘He needs no help; he is dead enough.’ His senses had returned, and he was just able

to reply, ‘No, I am not dead.’ Had the ball struck him a hair’s breadth higher or lower it would have

taken his life! He had yet a great work to do for his heavenly Master, and for this he was preserved.

— Wes. Mag., 1849, p. 880. — Ever after this, he wore a green shade over his right eye lid.

Captain Webb was also with General Wolfe in the taking of Quebec, in 1759 [One source dates

the conquest of Quebec as 1758], and in that battle he was wounded in the right arm. When with

Wolfe’s army he scaled the Heights of Abraham and fought in the battle of Quebec, Captain Webb

took part in what one writer called, “the most important military event, before the Revolution, in the

history of the continent; for by it the Papal domination of France was overthrown in the North, and

the country, from Hudson’s Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, placed under

Protestant control, and opened for its great career in Christian civilization.”

His First Return To England, Conversion, and Beginning Ministry

Captain Webb returned to England in 1764. He became acquainted with an evangelical minister

of the Church of England, and through him he also became acquainted with the Methodists. He was

awakened under the preaching of Mr. Wesley, and after a severe mental conflict of nearly a year, he

obtained the consciousness of the forgiveness of sin. In 1765 he joined a Methodist Society. Being

present in the city of Bath where a circuit preacher was expected, who failed to attend, the captain

was requested to speak to the people. He advanced to the altar in his regimentals, addressed them

with great effect, chiefly narrating his own Christian experience, and his effort was made a blessing

to many. Wesley, ever vigilant for “helpers,” licensed him to preach, and through the remainder of

his life he was indefatigable in Christian labors both in the New World and in the Old; preaching,

giving his money, founding societies, and attending Conferences.

A soldier in the English army, Thomas Webb enlisted in the Lord’s army, and thenceforth, as “a

good soldier of Jesus Christ,” he helped to advance the banner of Christ both zealously and

victoriously. The importance of the military victory at Quebec in which he took part, pales in

comparison to the importance of the spiritual beachhead he helped to make for God and Methodism

on the American shores.

His Second Visit to the American Continent in 1766

Near the year 1766 Captain Webb was appointed Barrack-Master of the English troops at Albany.

Upon arriving at his post of duty in Albany, Captain Webb set up family prayer in his own house,

which some of his neighbors frequently attended, to whom he gave a word of exhortation and advice.

The blessing of God attending these incipient efforts to do good, he was induced to extend his labors,

and He began holding meetings among his fellow-soldiers and others who wished to attend.

His Move From Albany to Long Island

About 1767 Webb’s service as Barracks-Master at Albany, New York apparently concluded his

time in the English army. One writer says: “Being at last on the retired list, with the title and pay of

a captain for his honorable services, he had leisure for travel. The kindred of his wife lived at

Jamaica, L. I. He went thither, hired a house, and preached in it, and ‘twenty-four persons received

justifying grace.’ ” Speaking of this same move from Albany to Long Island, Thomas Taylor wrote:

“About this period Mr. Webb, whose wife’s relations lived at Jamaica, Long Island, took a house in

that neighborhood, and began to preach in his own house, and several other places on Long Island.

Within six months, about twenty-four persons received justifying grace.

About four months before Captain Webb’s arrival in New York, Philip Embury, at the urging of

Barbara Heck, had begun to preach. The first meetings were conducted in Embury’s house, but it

would appear that shortly thereafter the meeting place was moved to a rented room. Thomas Taylor

wrote: “They then rented an empty room in their neighborhood, which was in the most infamous

street in the city, adjoining the barracks. For some time few thought it worth their while to hear: but

God so ordered it by his providence.” It would appear from this that there was some discouragement

in the first American Methodist Society during the time between its commencement in 1766 until

Captain Webb’s arrival among them in about 1767. Whatever their frame of mind may have been,

a fresh spiritual invigoration and blessing from God came their way with the arrival of Thomas

Webb.

His Introduction to the Fledgling New York Methodist Society

Sometime, perhaps quite shortly after his move to Long Island, Captain Webb heard of the

Methodist meetings being conducted by Embury in New York, and, of course, he paid them a visit.

His first appearance among them was in the public assembly, and as he wore the uniform of a British

captain, the little society were fearful at first, that he had come to “spy out their liberties in Christ

” but, when they saw him kneel in prayer and devoutly participate with them in their acts of devotion,

their fears were exchanged for joy, and they hailed “him as a brother beloved.” He was therefore

soon invited to preach, which he did with great energy and acceptance. His appearance in the pulpit

in the costume of a military officer, with his sword either lying by his side or swinging in its

scabbard, was a novelty that attracted much attention and excited no little surprise among the citizens

who attended the meetings. His preaching, however, was in demonstration and power, and he

generally related his own experience as an evidence of the truth of his doctrine respecting

experimental religion. His conversion experience was very deep. He had a severe struggle while

passing from death to life before he obtained a bright and unclouded witness of his acceptance in the

Beloved. However, it is stated by those who heard him in those days, that he always took care to

guard weak believers against “casting away their confidence,” because their experience was not the

same as his.

Jacob Albright

Albright(May 1, 1759 – May 17, 1808)

Jacob Albright was born in 1759 to John Albright (Johannes Albrecht) and his wife, in the region of Fox Mountain (Fuchsberg) in Douglass Township (now Montgomery County) northwest of Pottstown, Pennsylvania and was baptized into the Lutheran Church. His parents were German immigrants from the Palatine Region of Germany, but sources disagree on when they immigrated to the United States. (Johannes Albrecht and his wife, Anna Barbara, both born in either Austria or Palatine depending on the source, came to America on the ship Johnson in 1732. There were seven children: Jacob, aged 5 among them. This Johannes and his family settled in Bern Township, Berks County where Johannes died in 1751 or 1752. His son, Jacob, left Berks County in 1760.) Jacob Albright was educated in a German school where he learned reading, writing and arithmetic. In addition to speaking the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, he spoke German and taught himself enough English so he could deliver a sermon in that language.

During the American Revolution, Jacob Albright served in Captain Jacob Witz’s Seventh Company, Fourth Battalion, Philadelphia Militia as a drummer boy and later as a guard for the Hessian prisoners at Reading, Pennsylvania. Although uncertain, several sources indicate that he served through 1786.

In 1785, he married Catherine Cope and they had six (or nine) children. Only three children survived to adulthood: Sarah, wife of Noah Ranck; Jacob, who died childless; and David, married to Mary Riedenbach (Raidenbach or Raidabaugh), who had children. There are descendants of Jacob Albright through his son David living today. The young family moved to Earl Township, Lancaster County, and they lived near Ephrata, Pennsylvania, where the young Jacob took up farming and was in the business of manufacturing tiles and bricks.

Evangelical work

A German Lutheran in his heritage, he was converted in about 1790 to Methodism, when several of his children died causing him to go through a religious crisis. Lutheranism did not give him comfort. He visited with several members of the United Brethren in Christ and later attended a Methodist class (a religious meeting held in a private home). He was called to take the message of Methodism to the German-speaking people. (George Miller wrote the first biography of Jacob Albright and it is available in two English translations, one by George Edward Epp and the other by James D. Nelson. Written three years after Jacob Albirght’s death, Miller uses the preacher’s words as remembered by followers in telling about his spiritual journey.) Although he felt that he was unfit to preach, contemporary records reveal that he was a powerful and moving speaker, converting many to Methodism. He was licensed by the Methodist Church but was not permitted to preach in the German language, so he set out on his own.

He began preaching in Pennsylvania and by 1800 formed three classes among his converts in the German settlements. Later several other classes were formed and a meeting was held for the classes in 1803, even though they had no formal name or any official documents. There, Jacob Albright was ordained a minister by representatives from these classes. He was elected bishop at the first annual conference held by his followers in 1807 but he never really accepted the title. The Conference also adopted the episcopal form of government, articles of faith and a book of discipline.

Death

Weakened and in poor health from exhaustion and tuberculosis, Jacob Albright fell ill while traveling from Linglestown, Pennsylvania, northeast of Harrisburg. When he reached Kleinfeltersville, in Lebanon County, he could go no farther and there he died, May 17, 1808, at the age of 49. He was buried there in the Becker family plot. A chapel was built near the burial site and remains as a museum and memorial to Jacob Albright.

Legacy

The movement did not take the name of Evangelical Association until after Jacob Albright’s death. The family also changed their name to Albright. (Jacob Albright used the name Albrecht.) The church spread to various parts of the United States. In 1894 the Esher-Dubbs dispute occurred and 1/3 of the church left to form the United Evangelical Church. In 1923, most of the disputing congregations returned and the church was renamed the Evangelical Church. The remaining churches became the Evangelical Congregational Church. The Evangelical Church united in 1946 with the United Brethren in Christ (New Constitution) to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church and that body in turn united with the The Methodist Church in 1968 to form the United Methodist Church.

The Evangelical churches have always believed in education for both men and women, forming educational institutions through the country. Two institutions have been named after Jacob Albright. Albright Seminary was established by the Pittsburgh Conference in Berlin, Pennsylvania in 1853 and lasted about 5 years. Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, formed by the merger of several Evangelical institutions, is a United Methodist affiliated school. One of the highest scholarships the college awards is the Jacob Albright Scholarship, which gives students a substantial stipend per year.

jesse  
Jesse Lee and New England Methodism  
 
 
JESSE LEE

Jesse Lee, the son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Lee, was born in Prince George County, Va on March 12 1758.

In 1773 his parents joined the Methodist society. Jesse Lee, “in that same year experienced, in a marked manner, the sense of pardoned sin.” ”  In 1776, he experienced a state of grace which he called ”  perfect love.” ”  In 1777 he moved from his home into the bounds of Roanoke circuit, North Carolina; where the next year he was appointed a class leader. He preached his first sermon November 17, 1779, and for a time supplied the preachers place.”….At the tenth conference, held at Ellis meeting house, April 17, 1782, he was deeply impressed by the union and brotherly love prevalent among the preachers; and at a quarterly meeting, in November, he was prevailed upon to take charge, together with Mr. Dromgoole, of the Amelia circuit, near Edenton, NC.”  … ”  At the Ellis meeting house, May 6, 1783, he was received on trial into the conference. This year he preached with marked success” and was moved by the effect that he had on those to whom he preached and by his own emotions. ”  From this time he labored on different circuits, with like success, and was now regarded as an important man in the connexion. December 12, 1784, he was invited to meet Coke, Whatcoke, and Vasey, at the celebrated Christmas conference of 1784, at Baltimore, when with the aid of these persons ordained for this purpose, the Methodist Episcopal church was organized. Lee could not attend this conference on so short notice, but was immediately after requested by Bishop Asbury to travel on a Southern tour…..”

”  Lee was a man of vigorous physique, imposing presence, and great power of endurance. In weight, about two hundred and fifty pounds. In travelling, he rode horse-back, and like most other circuit riders of those times, he was a skillful horseman. In most of his travels, two horses were required for his use; each for a relay, when the other became fatigued. The horses were trained so that they would come to him at his call; and each would follow the other. So completely did the horses understand their duty, that if any person attempted to frighten away the companion horse, the indigent animal, with a show of teeth and heels, would drive away the intruder, and the itinerant rode on without further molestation.” ”  Lee’s outfit consisted of the inevitable saddle-bags, stored with bible, hymn book, a few other books, and a needful supply of clothing.” ”  He went among strangers, preaching,singing, and praying, in barns, school-houses, or in the open air, wherever he could obtain an audience; forming classes whenever two or three were willing to unite with the [Methodist] society.”  Lee’s impassioned sermons, fervid prayers and grand singing drew crowds to hear him. His genial manners and ready wit, made him an agreeable guest in the families of the people, especially in the rural neighborhoods. He was often coldly received in the villages, and he sometimes encountered violent opposition from the settled pastors, who regarded him as a visionary enthusiast, and denounced his doctrines as pestilent heresy.”   He was often challenged to discuss “principles,”  but generally evaded controversy, or repelled assaults with some short witty rejoinder. He proclaimed, with great force, a free and full salvation, and with great power, exhorted sinners to repent.”

At one point Jesse Lee was assigned to the Salisbury area of North Carolina. It was during this time that, while in the Yadkin River area, he preached to the Methodist community at the home of John Randle (known as Dumb John as he was deaf and could not speak) The book, The Life and Times of the Rev. Jesse Lee states:

“On one occasion he preached at the house of a man deaf and dumb from his birth, but who had acquired the power of pronouncing the name of his wife and of his brother, very distinctly. But, ‘I could not learn,’ says Mr. Lee, ‘  that he had ever uttered any other word.’ And, he adds, ‘he is esteemed a pious man, and, by signs, will give a good experience of grace, both of his conviction, conversion, and of his progress in the service of the Lord: and of the pleasing hope he has of heaven when he leaves this world.’ “

Jesse Lee is considered to be the first “circuit riding preacher” of the early Randall Church community. After his time at the Randall Church, Jesse Lee became the Father of New England Methodism – as well as Chaplain to the US Congress. His call to New England began after his 1785 meeting with Asbury and just after he left their time at Randalls. He stopped with Asbury in Cheraw – where Asbury spoke at Old St. Davids – and Lee met a store clerk there from New England, who told of the deplorable spiritual state in N.E. – Lee pleaded with Asbury for 5 years to send him there -and finally he did. There are churches from Connecticutt to Maine in New England which bear the name Jesse Lee United Methodist Church. Jesse Lee died on September 12, 1816.

 
 
JESSE LEE

Jesse Lee, the son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Lee, was born in Prince George County, Va on March 12 1758.

In 1773 his parents joined the Methodist society. Jesse Lee, “in that same year experienced, in a marked manner, the sense of pardoned sin.” ”  In 1776, he experienced a state of grace which he called ”  perfect love.” ”  In 1777 he moved from his home into the bounds of Roanoke circuit, North Carolina; where the next year he was appointed a class leader. He preached his first sermon November 17, 1779, and for a time supplied the preachers place.”….At the tenth conference, held at Ellis meeting house, April 17, 1782, he was deeply impressed by the union and brotherly love prevalent among the preachers; and at a quarterly meeting, in November, he was prevailed upon to take charge, together with Mr. Dromgoole, of the Amelia circuit, near Edenton, NC.”  … ”  At the Ellis meeting house, May 6, 1783, he was received on trial into the conference. This year he preached with marked success” and was moved by the effect that he had on those to whom he preached and by his own emotions. ”  From this time he labored on different circuits, with like success, and was now regarded as an important man in the connexion. December 12, 1784, he was invited to meet Coke, Whatcoke, and Vasey, at the celebrated Christmas conference of 1784, at Baltimore, when with the aid of these persons ordained for this purpose, the Methodist Episcopal church was organized. Lee could not attend this conference on so short notice, but was immediately after requested by Bishop Asbury to travel on a Southern tour…..”

”  Lee was a man of vigorous physique, imposing presence, and great power of endurance. In weight, about two hundred and fifty pounds. In travelling, he rode horse-back, and like most other circuit riders of those times, he was a skillful horseman. In most of his travels, two horses were required for his use; each for a relay, when the other became fatigued. The horses were trained so that they would come to him at his call; and each would follow the other. So completely did the horses understand their duty, that if any person attempted to frighten away the companion horse, the indigent animal, with a show of teeth and heels, would drive away the intruder, and the itinerant rode on without further molestation.” ”  Lee’s outfit consisted of the inevitable saddle-bags, stored with bible, hymn book, a few other books, and a needful supply of clothing.” ”  He went among strangers, preaching,singing, and praying, in barns, school-houses, or in the open air, wherever he could obtain an audience; forming classes whenever two or three were willing to unite with the [Methodist] society.”  Lee’s impassioned sermons, fervid prayers and grand singing drew crowds to hear him. His genial manners and ready wit, made him an agreeable guest in the families of the people, especially in the rural neighborhoods. He was often coldly received in the villages, and he sometimes encountered violent opposition from the settled pastors, who regarded him as a visionary enthusiast, and denounced his doctrines as pestilent heresy.”   He was often challenged to discuss “principles,”  but generally evaded controversy, or repelled assaults with some short witty rejoinder. He proclaimed, with great force, a free and full salvation, and with great power, exhorted sinners to repent.”

At one point Jesse Lee was assigned to the Salisbury area of North Carolina. It was during this time that, while in the Yadkin River area, he preached to the Methodist community at the home of John Randle (known as Dumb John as he was deaf and could not speak) The book, The Life and Times of the Rev. Jesse Lee states:

“On one occasion he preached at the house of a man deaf and dumb from his birth, but who had acquired the power of pronouncing the name of his wife and of his brother, very distinctly. But, ‘I could not learn,’ says Mr. Lee, ‘  that he had ever uttered any other word.’ And, he adds, ‘he is esteemed a pious man, and, by signs, will give a good experience of grace, both of his conviction, conversion, and of his progress in the service of the Lord: and of the pleasing hope he has of heaven when he leaves this world.’ “

Jesse Lee is considered to be the first “circuit riding preacher” of the early Randall Church community. After his time at the Randall Church, Jesse Lee became the Father of New England Methodism – as well as Chaplain to the US Congress. His call to New England began after his 1785 meeting with Asbury and just after he left their time at Randalls. He stopped with Asbury in Cheraw – where Asbury spoke at Old St. Davids – and Lee met a store clerk there from New England, who told of the deplorable spiritual state in N.E. – Lee pleaded with Asbury for 5 years to send him there -and finally he did. There are churches from Connecticutt to Maine in New England which bear the name Jesse Lee United Methodist Church. Jesse Lee died on September 12, 1816.

In 1789 he visited New England and established Methodism from the Connecticut River to the farthest settlement in Maine. He formed the first Methodist class in New England, at Stratford, Connecticut, September 26, 1787. He preached his first sermon (outdoors) on June 7[1] or 17,[2] 1789 in Norwalk, Connecticut. He held the first Methodist class in Boston, Massachusetts on July 13, 1792. For his pioneer work in New England he was often called the Apostle of Methodism.[3] He was a friend of Francis Asbury, and served as his assistant from 1797 to 1800.[4] He lacked only one vote of being elected Bishop by the General Conference of 1800, but was appointed to be a presiding elder of the south district of Virginia in 1801.[4] He wrote A Short Account of the Life and Death of the Rev. John Lee (1805) and a History of Methodism in America (1807), which has value for the early period. On May 22, 1809 Lee was appointed Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives[5] He was reappointed on November 2, 1812 and served for two sessions.[5] Upon leaving the chaplaincy of the House he was appointed Chaplain of the United States Senate on September 27, 1814 where he served until December 1815.[6]

In June 1789, Lee, came to Norwalk to preach his first sermon in Connecticut. He had some reason to believe that the Hezekiah Rogers house on Cross Street would be available for the meeting, and word had been sent around among those interested to assemble there. When Lee arrived, Hezekiah was not at home, and his wife hesitated to open the house to a public meeting. A neighbor refused to let Lee use her orchard for concern that the gathering would trample down the grass. Finally, Lee assembled his audience under an apple tree by the roadside and preached his sermon from the text “Ye must be born again.” Such was the beginning of Methodism in Norwalk. Today, there is a stone marker at the location

 

.Ottenbein

Philip William Otterbein

He was the founder of The Church of the United Brethren of Christ, one of the predecessor branches of The United Methodist Church. Otterbein (1726-1813), a native of Germany, was ordained in the German Reformed Church. He came to the United States in 1752 and served as pastor of the Reformed congregations in Pennsylvania and Maryland. In 1774 he became the pastor of an independent Reformed congregation in Baltimore, Maryland, which he served until his death. He had close ties with the American Methodists and assisted in the ordination of Francis Asbury at the Methodist Christmas Conference of 1784. Otterbein became a leader of a small group within the Reformed Church seeking to promote a spirit of inward piety. In 1800 The Church of the United Brethren in Christ was formed. Otterbein, along with Martin Boehm was elected bishop. The relationships between the leaders of this church and The Methodist Episcopal Church were close. The Church of United Brethren in Christ merged with The Evangelical Association in 1946 to form The Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968 The Evengelical United Brethren Church merged with the Methodist Church to form The United Methodist Church.

Martin-BoehmMartin Boehm (November 30, 1725 – March 23, 1812) was an American clergyman and pastor. He was the son of Jacob Boehm and Barbara Kendig who settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Boehm married Eve Steiner in 1753 and in 1756 he was chosen by lot to become the minister of the local Mennonite church.

Although raised a Mennonite, he lacked the assurance of the presence and power of Jesus Christ in his life and he prayed for a heart-warming experience, to deepen his personal faith. Then one day, after many months of prayer and meditation he had an epiphany. After this, Martin preached with confidence and fervor. In 1761, Martin was advanced to the office of bishop in the Mennonite tradition.

Boehm’s Chapel

In 1791, Boehm donated land to the Methodists to build some type of religious buildings. That same year a church was built and named Boehm’s Chapel.

In 1800, after being expelled by the Mennonites for being too evangelical, Boehm along with Philip William Otterbein, formerly a pastor at First Reformed Church, Lancaster, formed the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, and they became the sect’s first two bishops. They first met on May 10, 1767, in a Great Meeting held at Long’s Barn in Lancaster, Pa. Otterbein was so impressed with Boehm’s passionate message that he embraced Boehm and declared, “Wir sind Brüder” (We are brethren). In 1802, Boehm joined the Methodist Episcopal Church while still a bishop of the United Brethren.

He is believed to be a descendent of Jakob Boehme. His youngest child of eight children, Henry Boehm, also became a clergyman.

Martin Boehm died on March 23, 1812. Bishop Francis Asbury and Henry Boehm conducted a memorial service for Boehm on April 5, 1812.

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