Asbury United Methodist Church – The Church Journey

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21 March 2020

I had the privilege to visit Asbury United Methodist Church originally built in 1855 and rebuilt in 1898. Asbury is an excellent example of rural church architecture, that is basically unaltered since originally constructed. The church building is expressed in the gothic revival style, when combined with its setting, offers an enhanced inspirational feeling that radiates from the white exterior. The steep pitch of roof gables, pronounced arches, and strategic placement atop a hill, draws the eyes upward and imply a sense calm in a world of panic and fear caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. These features signify the beauty and importance of this church to the Asbury community, which has maintained a congregation in eastern Knox County for more than 165 years.

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The church building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The National Register nomination referred to the “inspirational feeling” imparted by the Gothic revival architecture, the “sense of power” imparted by the church’s steep gabled roof and pronounced arches, and the “sense of strength and stability” conveyed by the square bell tower, which has a bellcast roof. [2]

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The church is named for English Methodist evangelist Francis Asbury, who is credited with disseminating Methodism in the United States in late 18th and early 19th centuries, and who on November 2nd, 1800 led the first Methodist worship service in East Tennessee. [2]

The year was 1855 and the Huffaker family, who was among the group, donated the land for the church. Friends and neighbors gathered on a grassy knoll near the newly established City of Knoxville, a little more than a mile from where the French Broad and Holston Rivers flow together to form the Tennessee River. There they placed timber upon timber to build a Methodist Episcopal Church for their community.

The Huffaker family had a long and fervent history of Methodism. The year 1780 in Washington County, Virginia, Michael Huffaker invited Bishop Francis Asbury into his home to convene the first Methodist conference west of the Allegheny Mountains. Later in his life, Michael donated the land to build the Manheim United Methodist Church and Cemetery near his birthplace in Pennsylvania. In the 1780s, a branch of the family moved from Virginia to the Seven Islands community east of Knoxville where they remained advocates for the Methodist cause and admirers of Bishop Asbury. The family donated the land to build the Seven Islands Methodist Church. Check out the blog on the Seven Island Methodist Church submitted in January of 2020. [1]

MY JOURNEY:

I arrived early Saturday morning. The church was closed at that time. As I walked around the perimeter of the building taking pictures, I felt the desire to sit on the concrete steps that led up to the entrance of the church. Engraved in the concrete steps “built in 1855 and rebuilt in 1898.” As I sat on the white concrete steps, I felt a cool breeze flowing around me. The tranquil peace I felt made this the perfect place to pray and meditate.

After spending time in prayer, my thoughts shifted to the beauty and history of this historical church. The church building has been blessed, as it still stands unchanged in the same location it was constructed over 122 years ago. I thought about all of the people that ascended the same stairs. The members of the church who have given freely of their talents and resources. The legacy is in the hearts of the people who have worshipped there through the years, the hopes, the joys, and the blessing. Here souls were saved, newborns were christened, couples were married, and beloved deceased were honored on their path to the everlasting.  Asbury Church, like the man for whom it was named, has been steadfast in reaching out to the community and beyond to reach those with the gospel.

FELLOWSHIP:

With the National emergency for the COVID-19 virus many places are remaining closed to the public. Because of this reason there will not be any fellowship over the next several weeks. I arrived during the morning when the church was closed. It provided an excellent opportunity for me to spent time in prayer and quiet time in mediation.  

DETAILS:   

Church Website: https://www.umc.org/en/find-a-church/church/?id=40956

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Asbury-United-Methodist-Church-Knoxville-TN-203526823045370/

Date Visited: 2020 March 21st. 

Location: 2822 Asbury Rd, Knoxville, TN 37914

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The church added a parsonage and built a Sunday school addition in 1938 and a fellowship hall in 1949.

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The church has a gothic revival architecture, the church’s steep gabled roof and pronounced arches, and the square bell tower, which has a bellcast roof. This bellcast roof is made of copper, but over the year’s oxidation has changed its color to a dark green.

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The side view of the church maintains the same beautiful appearance with an arch design over the stain glass windows.

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Inside the church interior your attention is drawn to the original oil chandelier, and the backlit painting of Christ. The worship area provides multiple rows of seating in beautiful carved wooden pews, pulpit and balustrade, further illustrate the significance of the attractive details of this church. [1] (Picture provided via website)

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Church members and families donated the backlit painting of Christ, the organ and piano, the chimes, and the communion table. [1] (Picture provided via website)

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The stained glass windows display a meticulous blend of designs and colors.

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Looking closely at the wooden church walls you see that the many layers of paint have preserved the wood in an exceptional condition for its age.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

During these trying times of isolation related to Covid-19 If you’re looking for something to read. The Gospel of John is an excellent starting point in the Bible. The Gospel of John was the fourth and last gospel to be written. As one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, John writes with credibility and the details of an eyewitness.

ORIGINAL AUDIENCE: New Christians and searching non-Christians.

JOHN 1:12 “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”

Being born of God makes you spiritually alive and puts you in God’s family.

Charles Spurgeon said; this about John 1:12 “To receive Christ, a man must be born of God. It is the simplest thing in all the world, one would think, to open the door of the heart, and let him in; but no man lets Christ into his heart till first God has made him to be born again, born from above.”

During this world wide pandemic many are living in fear. Fear is used at least 80 times in the Bible.  The enemy uses fear to decrease our hope and limit our victories. God actually commands us not to fear, or worry in several verses in the Bible.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

If you would like to learn more about this church, upcoming events, or listen to a sermon I encourage you to visit the church website listed above.

May our Lord continue to bless this church in Jesus name.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9)

Please Pray for all our churches as they continue to face challenges in the year 2020.

May this find you well and happy, God Bless

PICTURE GALLERY:

REFERENCES:

  1. Asbury United Methodist Church website, “History” (2016, February 03) Retrieved from http://www.asburyumcknox.org/?page_id=7
  2. Wikipedia. (2020, March 23) Asbury United Methodist Church Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asbury_United_Methodist_Church_(Knoxville,_Tennessee)

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