Ordination Certificate, Signed by Francis Asbury

Collection ID







United States




Ink on Paper


6 × 7.9 in. (15.2 × 20 cm)

Exhibit Location

On View in the Impact of the Bible, Bible in America

This ordination certificate was signed by Francis Asbury (1745–1816), a founding bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America, and issued to a man named James Campbell. Asbury was originally from England and first arrived in the American colonies as a Methodist missionary in 1771. Over the next 45 years, he traveled thousands of miles throughout the young United States and delivered an estimated 16,000 sermons. In addition to preaching, however, Asbury also trained and ordained ministers and deacons, such as Campbell. By the time of Asbury’s death, the Methodist Church had grown from a few hundred members to over 200,000, eventually becoming the largest denomination in the United States.

Created in 1791 by Francis Asbury, minister, United States; Ownership assumed in 1791 by James Campbell, location unknown. [1] Acquired before 2010 by David C. Lachman, private collector, Pennsylvania; Purchased by 2010 by Gene Albert (Christian Heritage Museum), Hagerstown, Maryland;[2] Purchased in 2010 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Donated in 2017 to National Christian Foundation (later The Signatry), under the curatorial care of Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

[1] James Campbell’s identity is uncertain. The minutes from the Methodist Church’s annual conference in 1791 list a James Campbell as a new deacon, but they do not list his home state. (See Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church, vol 1 [ New York: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1840], 40.) [2] Christian Heritage Museum could provide no further information about their acquisition of this certificate.

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