Jesse Lee’s Preaching at Love’s Church

Please understand who I am and what drives me. I enjoy history, am a painfully slow writer and will only occasionally post on my blog site as I live with a work schedule that demands much of my time.

With that out of the way, let’s revisit an earlier post where, in October 1799, Rev. Jesse Lee and Francis Asbury spoke to a gathering held at Love’s Church in now Stokes County, North Carolina:

Monday 7. We rode through Stokes County, and attended meeting at Love’s church, which has glass windows, and a yard fenced in. After Jesse Lee, I added a few words on Hebr. ii. 1. We then came up to William Jean’s, near the Moravian Old-town. We have rode nearly twenty miles this day. Sitting in meeting so many hours among such a multitude of people, and frequently with a blister on my breast, with the difficulties of driving along broken paths, cause me to be variously tried and comforted.

It’s interesting that Asbury concluded the meeting with words on Hebrews 2:1

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

Beyond the assumed biblical interpretation, for us who study families and our history, it’s vital to listen well and engage in conversation that brings life to stories being told. Don’t merely seek to understand the prevailing thought, but make it real by taking time to learn more about the cast of players and how their mentioning adds to the story. From such perspective, I can only guess about Asbury’s sermon and how it related to the congregation of Love’s Church in the times that were. We can glean much from the Journals of Francis Asbury, but who was the above named Jesse Lee?

Jesse Lee

Jesse Lee

Born 12 March 1758 in Prince George’s County, Virginia, Jesse Lee experienced a state of grace in 1777 after which time he helped to bring Methodism to northeast North Carolina. Following the formal organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church at the celebrated Christmas Conference on 12 Dec 1784, Lee was requested by Francis Asbury to travel on a southern tour. In the piedmont of NC, while assigned to the Salisbury area, Jesse Lee preached to the Methodist community at the home of John Randle (known as Dumb John as he was deaf and could not speak). Located in present day Stanly County, Randall Methodist Church was formed. Jesse Lee is considered to be its fist “Circuit Riding Preacher.”

In 1789, Jesse Lee was sent north where he formed the first Methodist class in New England. He’s responsible for planting the seed of Methodism from Connecticut north to Maine. Remaining friends with Francis Asbury, Jesse Lee served as his assistant from 1797 through 1800. It was during this time that Lee spoke at Love’s Church in North Carolina.

Jesse Lee was appointed Chaplain of the United States Representatives in 1809 and then again in 1812. On 24 Aug 1814, Washington DC was tragically burned during the War of 1812. Following what must have been a horrific site, Jesse Lee was appointed Chaplain of the United States Senate a month later on September 27, 1814. He died in 1816 and is buried in Baltimore, Maryland.

In the short paragraph from Asbury’s Journal, there is mention of another person. Who is William Jean and how does he expand the story? More later…

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