Asbury United Methodist Church has deep roots in this community. This area along Asbury Chapel Road, where Asbury UMC is located, was formerly known as Ferrelltown. It’s history spans centuries, with several name changes, Methodist affiliation changes as well as a location change along the way. Here is a brief history of Asbury’s past two hundred years.
In April 1814, a man named Dr. David R. Dunlap, a physician and Methodist, moved to Charlotte. He arranged for several Methodist ministers to preach in the area and seeds of the Methodist movement were planted but no Societies were formed at that time.
In December of 1814, the South Carolina Conference formed a new circuit known as the Sugar Creek Circuit and appointed Rev. William B. Barnett as its pastor. On this circuit were 16 preaching places that included locations in Anson County, Rowan County, and Mecklenburg County. This circuit included Christenbury’s, which was later to become the first Methodist Society formed in the Ferrelltown area.
A Methodist Society in America was modeled after their counterparts in England. These were a gathering of disciples for the purpose of prayer, Bible study and assisting each other with offering accountability and support for pious living. The Societies met with such regularity, purpose and vision that they were declared “methodical” by the Church of England. Such was their passion and inflexibility towards discipleship that this was actually meant to be a derogatory term. Hence, the term “Methodist” evolved from this passionate, Biblical living.
It was this same passion, vision and enthusiasm for discipleship that Rev. Barnett brought to Ferrelltown back in December, 1814 and regular Methodist preaching was begun for this area. The groundwork was being laid for what was to be called Nazareth Church. That name was later changed to Bethesda and eventually became Asbury United Methodist Church.
A few decades later to the years immediately preceding the Civil War and we find the area was considered a “nest of abolitionists”. A man named Franklin Davis had been arrested for speaking out against slavery and the supporters in the area were holding prayer meetings to lift him up. The church and the times were tumultuous and the records were few as to the changes going on during the Civil War in the Ferrelltown area and in the church.
Immediately following the end of the Civil War, Mr. Richard Jordon donated two and a half acres of land to the trustees for the building of Asbury Church. This land was approximately one-fourth mile west of the present location.
In 1900 the people felt the need for a new church. The entire framework was up in early March 1901 but a storm came through on March 6 and destroyed the entire structure. The members were not deterred and began building again. That building was completed by October 1902 and was in the current location of Asbury UMC.
Asbury continued to grow through the early 1900’s and was remodeled and enlarged in 1927. In the early 1950’s it was decided a space was needed for social events and special meetings. The building of “The Hut” took place to accommodate those events.
By 1960 the church membership was over 200 and the congregation felt the need to build a new and larger building. The educational building was completed first and was ready for use in June 1962. The new sanctuary held its first service on March 8, 1963.
Land for the building of a parsonage was donated in 1969. This parsonage was completed in June 1971 with Rev. T. Dale Holcombe as the first occupant.
A Fellowship Hall, that included The Hut, was completed in the early 1980’s. Sadly that building burned in 1987 and a new Fellowship Hall was completed in 1989.
This is only a brief synopsis of the 200 years of Asbury’s rich and colorful history. Throughout those many years, Asbury United Methodist Church has been the home for thousands of individuals on their spiritual journey. Lives have been changed here including numerous individuals who felt the calling to ministry from the shelter of this place. We are proud to call Asbury our home. We are excited to see where God will lead Asbury United Methodist Church in its next 200 years.