Lovely Lane UMC, Old Otterbein Church, and Communion at Asbury’s Grave

John Strawbridge
John Strawbridge

We started the day by visiting the beautiful Lovely Lane UMC in Baltimore. The Christmas Conference of 1784, which created the Methodist Episcopal Church and at which Francis Asbury was ordained, was held at the original Lovely Lane Chapel site. The church we visited was built in 1884 to commemorate the centennial of the founding of the Methodist Church. Our guide through the beautiful sanctuary was the church’s lay leader, John Strawbridge. John is a direct descendent of Robert and Elizabeth Strawbridge, who were two of the original Methodist class leaders in the 1760s in Maryland.

Methodist Heritage Tour_Friday-127
Strawbridge pulpit

John told us his great-great-great-(I don’t know how many greats to add)-grandfather used to preach under a particular tree, which was finally cut down in the early 1900s. The wood from that tree was used to make this Strawbridge pulpit.

From Lovely Lane we travelled a short distance to Old Otterbein Church. It once was a German Reformed church that called as its pastor in 1771 one Philip William Otterbein. If you’ve been paying attention, this is the same man who we met earlier associated with Martin Boehm at Boehm’s Chapel in Lancaster County, and who also assisted Thomas Coke in ordaining Francis Asbury.

Methodist Heritage Tour_Friday-121Old Otterbein was for a time an Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB), which became part of the UMC at the merger in 1968 in Dallas, TX, of the EUB and Methodist churches to form the United Methodist Church. The Methodist Society that eventually built Lovely Lane Chapel, where the Christmas Conference of 1784 was held, met at this church for a time.

Interestedly, our guide told us that when Camden Yard was built in the 1990s for the Orioles baseball team, which is about two blocks away, the church feared the impact it would have. But ironically, the church members started selling peanuts, water, and parking to game-goers, and they are making enough money to keep the building going! “The Lord doth providest.”

Finally, we made an OPTIONAL trek out to Mt. Olivet Cemetery, which is where Methodist Heritage Tour_Friday-23“Bishops Lot” is located. This is the burial site for Bishops Francis Asbury, John Emory, Enoch George, and Beverly Waugh (who, to avoid confusion is male and is in my ordination chain). Also interred here are the remains of the greatest Methodist missionary of the 20th century, E. Stanley Jones, who died on mission in India, and his wife. Jim Turley consecrated Communion elements and we shared Holy Communion together for those brave enough to make the long, uphill trek. It was a moving experience.

Tomorrow we leave Baltimore and head south to our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

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