Asbury United Methodist Church-- Franklin

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History of Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church

To our ears, no history is more beautiful, more sacred, more soul-stirring or more interesting than the history of Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church. For approaching one hundred and fifty years, Asbury has stood as a monument to the Glory of God, as a beacon light to the our world and as a refuge for our down-hearted ancestors. Since the by-gone days of slavery, our church structure was first used as a place of worship for Southern white people. The original owner of the property, Michael Gordy, acquired the land at a Sheriff's sale in 1834. The property was donated to a Congregation of Baptists in the late 1830's. From this time up until 1866, the church that stands today was known as the Ironside Baptist Church. During these years, on occasion, Negro slaves were permitted to attend worship services held here.

The Ironside Baptist Church was disbanded with the Southern loss of the Civil War. Then in 1866, the colored Parent Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church purchased the property and structure for the sum of $1,500. So in this year of 1866, Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church was founded as a worship place for the race of men and women who had been enslaved, raped, robbed, cruelly beaten and left destitute, unschooled or DEAD by the evil institution of slavery. Thus the first minister to preach the beautiful, comforting and saving Gospel of Jesus Christ was Rev. Thomas Kennedy and this occurred on Christmas Day, 1866.

Since those early days of Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church, many pastors have shepherded our congregation through crisis and disasters. The church structure has undergone a number of major restorations. Around the year 1900, the inside of the church was extensively remodeled under the leadership of Rev. T. J. Johnson. In 1964, the steeple of the church was destroyed by Hurricane Hilda. The following year more damage was done by Hurricane Betsy. The Asbury congregation arrived at a decision to sell the old property and to erect a new church. However, at the urging of Franklin preservationists who recalled the historic significance of the old sanctuary, the Asbury congregation reconsidered and committed to restoring the structure. So by 1969, the structure had been preserved, although significantly altered. Meanwhile in 1968, Asbury had joined the fellowship of the United Methodist movement and had become Asbury United Methodist Church.

In 1992, another great storm, Hurricane Andrew, caused extensive damage to the interior of the church and reconstruction occurred under the leadership of Rev. R. Walmsey, as well as with the assistance of Bishop Odem and District Superintendent Gerald Richardson. So today we thank God for the wondrous and beautiful worship home that Asbury United Methodist Church is for us today. We thank God that while our building has been shaken, certaintly the faith of all who have worshiped at Asbury through the many decades-- that faith has never been shaken.

So once again, we thank God for our history, we thank God for our worship home and we thank God for the wondrous Christian fellowship of Asbury United Methodist Church.