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"What is the Oldest Methodist Church in America?" - by Rev. Weldon Bares

While on a trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I worshiped one Sunday morning at Arch Street United Methodist Church, a block away from City Hall. The church was founded in 1862 and was still being built when the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln passed by it in 1865.

A couple of days prior to this I visited St. George’s United Methodist Church. The American Methodist movement actually began in this church in 1769. This is the oldest Methodist Church in continuous use in this country.

Not much has changed with the building since it was remodeled in 1792. The church has colonial-era pews and floorboards, as well as wrought iron candle chandeliers and candelabra, but not wired with electric lights.

In the museum I saw a beautiful silver chalice given to the church in 1785 by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and also a Bible that was personally delivered to the church by Francis Asbury, the father of American Methodism.

As I walked on those old wooden floors, I felt a kinship to John Wesley and Francis Asbury. I felt a special bond with those who have gone before, preaching and worshiping in that sacred place. I felt the presence of God’s Holy Spirit.

May God continue to bless Arch Street and St. George’s and First United Methodist of Lake Charles . . . and YOUR church as we stand firm for the faith that has been passed down to us from faithful generations.

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