Asbury United Methodist to celebrate 105 years

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By The Staff

Duane Bonifer


Twenty years ago, Asbury United Methodist Church could have held most of its services in one of its members' living rooms as the church rarely had more than 10 people at a service.

Today, the church at 9600 New Columbia Road on the Adair-Taylor county line, is a thriving faith community of more than 220 members. Weekly attendance averages more than 100.

And on Sunday, the church will host a special service that celebrates "105 years in ministry."

Cal Turner Jr. - who is chairman of the Cal Turner Family Foundation and the retired CEO, chairman and president of Dollar General Corp. - will be the featured speaker.

Although a native of Allen County, Turner is no stranger to this area. He is a longtime trustee at nearby Lindsey Wilson College, which was also founded in 1903. Turner has also served as chairman of the college's board of trustees.

Following the service, Swan's Landing will provide a lunch to the church's members and guests.

"It's truly incredible how much God has blessed this church for more than a century," said the Rev. Don Watson, Asbury's pastor since 1988.

The Sunday celebration will also include a visit from U.S. Congressman Ed Whitfield, who has represented Kentucky's 1st District since 1994, and his wife, Connie; and the Rev. David McAllister-Wilson, president of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

"It's wonderful that our church will have such distinguished guests to join us for our celebration, but the real story is the people who have helped this church grow so its ministry can reach out to more of this area's residents," Watson said.

For the last 20 years, Asbury has been one of the fastest-growing churches in the Kentucky Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Watson attributes Asbury's tremendous growth to a church mission where "acceptance is unlimited and servants are unselfish."

"We are a faith community where becoming Christ-like is emulated and uniqueness is encouraged," Watson said. "We're also a church where relevant worship is experienced, which is something that today's churchgoers seek."

Asbury's numerous ministries have also contributed to its growth. The church offers a children's ministry, carpenter shop ministry, music ministry, youth ministry, contagious prayer ministry and women's ministry.

Asbury's most recent ministry is "WITHREACH," which reflects the church's fundamental role as a place that helps people cope with change.

"Essentially, this ministry is an intensive effort to touch the lives of people within South Central Kentucky by sharing the help and hope God's unconditional love offers and that Asbury is 'with' you whatever you are going through," Watson said.

From 1903 to 1992, Asbury was in a 40-foot-by-60-foot, one-room structure that did not include restrooms. The church's attendance peaked around 1950. When Watson became pastor, the church had but 17 members on record with an attendance of six to 12 people on the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

In 1992, Asbury built classroom space, added restrooms and upgraded from an oil stove to a central heating and cooling unit. A kitchen was added in 1994, followed by a fellowship room and additional classroom space.

In 1996, Asbury's sanctuary was expanded to make room for a chancel and choir space. The parking lot was also expanded and other facility improvements were made.

And in June 2005, Asbury moved across the highway into its current location - the 14,000-square-foot Asbury Worship and Life Development Center.

"It's incredible to look back over the last 20 years and see how this church has been transformed," Watson said. "It's a testament to the incredible work that God can do when he works through us to change people's lives."