The View Out My Window
It dates back to 1789, and is considered the first Methodist Church west of the Catawba River in North Carolina.
Out my office window is a cemetery filled with history. The first settlers in the wilds of North Carolina with names like Sherrill and Beatty lie in rest (thus Sherrills Ford and Beatties Ford are common landmarks in these parts).
Out in one corner of the cemetery near the large oak tree is the grave of Daniel Asbury, the circuit rider who started Methodism on the frontier in western North Carolina.
Asbury (no family relation to Francis) had quite a story. Born in 1762, he was raised in Fairfax County, Virginia, and at age 16 he went to Kentucky taking provisions to a frontier fort. He was captured by Shawnee Indians, and was taken out west, then to Canada and later was turned over to the British at a fort in Detroit during the Revolutionary War.
He was released and found his way back to Virginia, where he was converted and became a Methodist preacher at the age of 24 and served a circuit of churches in Virginia before being sent to serve in North Carolina.
He established the "Grassy Creek Methodist Society" in 1787 (populated with Sherrill's and Beatty's), and it eventually became Rehobeth Church.
In 1794, the first Methodist camp meeting was held on these very grounds for several days and nights. This area still has three active camp meetings every August (Ball's Creek, Rock Springs, Mott's Grove).
In many ways, Rehobeth is still on a frontier.
When Duke Power dammed up the river and created Lake Norman between 1959-1964, it changed this area forever. Not only did it displace some families, it created a demand for all kinds of new families. In my few weeks on the job, I have met folks from all over the United States (and even some foreign countries) who found their way to the community.
We are 26 miles from Charlotte as the crow flies, but it seems further in 21st century traffic. This is a bedroom community for lots of workers in the Metro area, and a quiet oasis for folks who have retired.
The area is projected to grow steadily in the next five years, and will probably bring a variety of families and even more diverse backgrounds than we have currently.
I look out my window, and wonder what Daniel Asbury would do on this new frontier.
I wonder if the small class meetings and societies of old would be part of the equation. I wonder how he would structure camp meeting with these new settlers. I wonder how he would react to a people that speeds by the crossroads at 50 miles per hour, and who are more likely to check out a church on their cell phone than enjoying the hospitality of a Methodist home meeting.
I wonder if I have the gifts and courage to journey to a new frontier and share Jesus with the kind of commitment that he had 230 years ago. I wonder if any of us do.