‘Midnight Rider’ marks Methodist history service
North Searsport — Francis Asbury was an extraordinary preacher in an extraordinary time in American history — the period of the American Revolution through the country’s infancy. In a special service celebrating the North Searsport United Methodist Church’s 200th anniversary, Asbury will “come alive” in the person of Mark Alan Leslie Sunday, March 2, during the 10 a.m. service at the church on Mt. Ephraim Road.
The Searsport and North Searsport United Methodist Churches are combining their regular 9 and 11 a.m. services at this special time at the North Searsport church. Leslie, who lives in Monmouth, will stand in Asbury’s place (minus the horse). Worship will be led by the Rev. Elizabeth Bailey-Mitchell.
Leslie, author of the nationally acclaimed novel “Midnight Rider for the Morning Star,” based on Asbury’s life, has been a featured speaker at various historical events as well as at churches, historical societies and schools in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Biographers have called Asbury the most influential Christian in the Western Hemisphere during his lifetime and beyond. Unveiling a statue of Asbury in Washington, D.C., then-President Calvin Coolidge said the preacher deserved a place alongside the country’s founding fathers.
The British-born Asbury sailed from England to America in 1771 just before the Revolution, when there were only 600 Methodist in the colonies. With him at the helm, creating circuits and riding himself 5,000 to 6,000 miles a year throughout colonies and across the Allegheny Mountains, that number grew to more than 214,000 at the time of his death in 1816.
Starting in 1798, Asbury traveled into Maine six times, attending four New England Conferences and leading the way to strong Methodist circuits from Portland to Calais, including Penobscot and Castine.
Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or firstname.lastname@example.org.