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      “The United Methodist Church

does not designate saints –

and teaches that all faithful

Christians are saints.

However, if we did –

Francis Asbury would be likely

to be among the canonized.”

These words from

remind us that Bishop Francis Asbury

is a vitally important figure in our church (past & present!)  

Francis Asbury is the first great leader of American Methodism and one of the most prominent religious figures in American history. 

He transformed our church from a renewal movement through example and shear dogged-determination he established the shape of American Methodism (  

Here is a little more about Bishop Francis Asbury (1745-1816). He was a local preacher at 18 and was ordained at 22. In 1771 he volunteered to travel to America. When the American Revolution broke out in 1776 he was one of only two Methodist minister to remain in America. In 1784 John Wesley named Asbury and Thomas Coke as co-superintendents of the work in America. The American Methodists named them both "bishops". This marks the beginning of the "Methodist Episcopal Church of the USA". For the next 32 years, Asbury led all the Methodists in America. 

Like Wesley, Asbury preached in all sorts of places: courthouses, public houses, tobacco houses, fields, public squares, wherever a crowd assembled to hear him. For the remainder of his life he rode an average of 6000 miles each year, preaching virtually every day and conducting meetings and conferences. Under his direction the church grew from 1,200 to 214,000 members. (some info from - there is lots more to discover about him on-line!)  

Jesse Lee Meeting House

We are proud to also worship & praise in another site in Readfield. Our very own Jesse Lee meeting house is the oldest Methodist church which is open for worship in New England. It is lovingly preserved in its original condition. This site is rich in history... 

Yep, our Jesse Lee Meetinghouse has the proud distinction of being the site where Bishop Francis Asbury presided over the first New England Methodist Conference with nearly 2,000 people in attendance. 

To get there Asbury, in his journal, noted the following: "Saturday, August 25, we had to beat through the woods between Winthrop and Readfield, which are as bad as the Allegheny mountains, and the shades of death. We have now laid by our carriage and saddle to wait until Wednesday next for the conference, the first of the kind ever held in these parts." As soon as the conference was over he headed to Portland riding “sixty miles (by horseback) in two days, under the heat of the sun over desperate roads and rocks” – crazy right! How cool is this connection.  

The meeting house is handicapped accessible, located on Main St. East Readfield corner of Plains Road and route 17. We worship here every Sunday evening in July and August along with Easter Sunrise Service and Christmas Eve Service.  

The Readfield Methodist Church is responsible for the Meeting House, which was built between 1793 and 1795. And its dedication on June 21, 1795, drew as many as 2,000 people.
The church was originally up on the hill and was moved 500 feet to its present location by 50 teams of oxen. Regular worship services were held here until 1961 when five local congregations combined into one church currently known as the Readfield United Methodist Church in Kents Hill.But the Jesse Lee Meeting House is still the host of Easter sunrise and Christmas Eve services, plus Sunday evening services in the summer and weddings, funerals, and other special events. Many of the services here involve lots of singing, which is very special. The church, partly because it is so historic, is so peaceful and holy, I could sit there for hours.
Our church members are pleased and proud to care for and maintain this very special church. 
(excerpt from George Smith's article in the Kennebec Journal 2/19/2020)
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