The Asbury Methodist Church is one of the many landmarks located on Staten Island. It was named after Francis Asbury, an Englishman who came to America in 1771. Francis Asbury was born in 1745 and had begun his profession as a Methodist preacher by the age of twenty-one. He had volunteered to come to America when John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had asked his ministers for volunteers to travel to the Thirteen Colonies in 1771. Francis Asbury was a circuit rider, which means that he did not have one specific church at which he preached. Instead, he had travelled around the thirteen colonies, preaching to all those who wanted to listen.
During the American Revolutionary War, most of the Methodist preachers had left America. Francis Asbury, on the other hand, had stayed to continue his work. As a preacher, he was very dedicated and helped to establish the Methodist churches on Staten Island, as well as in other counties. By 1784, Francis Asbury had become the first bishop of the American Methodist Episcopal Church and was John Wesley’s general assistant for America. Francis Asbury had never returned back to his English hometown, and he passed away just a week after preaching his last sermon in Virginia in 1816. He had preached in America for forty-five years and was thought of as the founder of American Methodism.
Prior to the late eighteenth century, there were no Methodist churches on Staten Island. When Bishop Francis Asbury came to Staten Island, he preached to the Methodists in a home on Woodrow Road. In 1802, the first Asbury Methodist Church was built, next to where the present-day church is now located. At that time, it was known as the North End Church or the Methodist Episcopal Church of Northfield. The original church was taken down in 1850, after a new Asbury Methodist Church had been constructed in 1849. The 1849 building is the present, landmarked church.
Asbury Methodist Church was built simply in a Vernacular style of architecture, with a hint of Federalism. This is shown by the building’s brick facades. The landmarked church is a good example of mid-nineteenth century architecture. It is rectangular in shape and has four elongated windows along each of the sides of the church. The windows are symmetrical along the building and the trims are painted in white.
The front wall and tower of the church were rebuilt in 1878. The front of the church now has the tower protruding out of it with double doors, a small arched window above it, and a single bell at the top of the tower. This creates a nice entranceway for visitors to the church. There are also three long, arched windows that were placed on the walls facing the street. There are one on each side of the doors and one above the door on the tower. Along with the church, there is an old graveyard that surrounds it. This graveyard dates back to the early 1800s.
The Asbury Methodist Church was designated a New York City Landmark in March of 1968. It is still in operation to this day, as the Son-Rise Interfaith Charismatic Church. The present address of the church is 2000 Richmond Avenue, in the neighborhood of New Springville, which is located in Staten Island’s Mid-Island section.