Let’s play word association. Bruce Springsteen. You think of the Jersey shore (among many other associations). Asbury Park. You think Bruce Springsteen!
Asbury Park is actually named after Francis Asbury. See, the man who bought the land that is now the town, was a Methodist. Hence the name of the town. Many of the streets are also named after other important figures in the history of Methodism.
In 1771 John Wesley sent Francis here from England. Over the course of his evangelical life here (45 years) he rode 130,000 miles on horseback. Going into small towns all along the coast and the frontier he would preach and pray with everyone in the community. (It has been said he was not very good at speaking to a crowd! And yet he persevered in order to spread the good news.)
This preaching and praying was for everyone. Asbury so no differences. No black or white… No rich or poor… which often brought him difficulties. Again he persevered. It was this contact and faith that allowed him to inspire two men (black) who then started the first African-American “braches” of our faith.
Not well educated himself, Francis started several schools. The first Sunday School here in “North America” also goes on his list of credits.
When Wesley wanted to ordain Asbury as a Bishop, he declined. “He asserted that the Methodists in America were founding an independent denomination and its leaders needed to echo the democratic ethos in the emerging American culture. To that end, Coke and Asbury gathered all the Methodist preachers at a general conference in Baltimore that Christmas. Those gathered voted to form an independent church and elected Coke and Asbury as its leaders.” (John Wigger. American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists)
President Calvin Coolidge is quoted from his dedication speech in 1924: “How many temples of worship dot our landscape; how many institutions of learning, some of them rejoicing in the name of Wesley, all trace the inspiration of their existence to the sacrifice and service of this lone circuit rider! He is entitled to rank as one of the builders of our nation.” This was said when a statue of him on his horse was erected in Washington D.C.
Asbury is a fine example of how no matter your education, or resources you, as an individual can do great things for God.
He preached over 10,000 sermons, ordained over 2,000 bishops. When he arrived (aged 26), Methodists were small in number. By the time he died over 200,000 (1in36 people at that time) called themselves Methodists!