Exhibition on Bishop Francis Asbury Opens Dec. 18 at Bridwell Library

Dr. Alyce McKenzie

The Revd. Francis Asbury,
Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States.
Philadelphia: Benjamin Tanner, 1814.

This engraving portraying Bishop Asbury late in life was published in Philadelphia by Benjamin Tanner (1775–1848). Tanner based his likeness of Asbury on an 1812 oil painting by New York artist John Paradise.

DALLAS (SMU) – An exhibition of original documents and prints of Bishops Francis Asbury will be on display in the Entry Hall of Bridwell Library beginning Friday, Dec. 18, and will run through Saturday, May 14, 2016. This exhibition honors the memory of Bishop Asbury by presenting 14 letters, images, and publications that detail his ministry.

Francis Asbury, the “Father of American Methodism,” was born in Staffordshire, England in 1745. At the age of 21, Asbury became an itinerant lay preacher in the Methodist movement. Five years later, in 1771, he accepted John Wesley’s call for volunteers to cross the Atlantic and minister in British North America. 

Highly regarded for his piety, perseverance, and administrative leadership, Asbury was ordained a Deacon, an Elder, and a General Superintendent (Bishop) during the 1784 founding “Christmas Conference” of the Methodist Episcopal Church. During his 45-year ministry in North America, Asbury rode an estimated 130,000 miles, preaching more than 10,000 sermons and ordaining an estimated 700 clergy. Under Bishop Asbury’s leadership, Methodism in North America grew from fewer than 1,000 members in 1771 to more than 200,000 in 1816.

More information about the exhibition: http://www.smu.edu/Bridwell/SpecialCollectionsandArchives/Exhibitions/asbury.

For more information, contact the exhibition curator, Bridwell Archivist Tim Binkley, 214.768.1989, tbinkley@smu.edu.

For more information about Bridwell Library: www.smu.edu/bridwell, 214-768-3483, bridadmin@smu.edu

Information about public parking at SMU (including maps of the SMU campus): smu.edu/maps.


Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music (June 2016) as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.