Rev. William Lee Grissom defined Methodism in one short sentence, “It is a revival of religion.” These words come from his book “History of Methodism in North Carolina, from 1772 to the present time” written in 1905. Grissom expounded on his definition “Methodism did not originate because of any dissatisfaction with the form of Church government. Neither was it born in some dogmatic belief. It formed no new article of faith. Hence it was not a revolution against any law, ecclesiastical authority, or doctrine. But it was a vital, innate force, that could not find expression in any organization of that day. Methodism, therefore, grew out of the necessity of the case” (History of Methodism in North Carolina, pg. 308).
This might be exactly what we need today. Revival! Lent is the perfect time to re-center our lives upon Jesus, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.
At the close of the 18th century, the Great Revival swept across North Carolina beginning in the Methodist Church. During the time of the great revival of the late 1700s and early 1800s, Methodists worked with Presbyterians in spreading the message of salvation in and through the body and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Bishop Francis Asbury helped lead the revival movement which flowed from the “Old Brunswick Circuit” in Virginia into North Carolina. Rev. Grissom testifies to young Methodist preachers filled with the Holy Spirit were tested in the “fires of opposition and persecution, and found to be men of God, who were ‘mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.’ These men threw themselves against the deism of England and the skepticism of France that were beginning to put in their destructive work upon these western shores” (History of Methodism in North Carolina, pgs. 310-311).
Our fellow Methodist preachers proclaimed ‘justification by faith; regeneration of the heart by the Holy Ghost; the knowledge of sins forgiven, or the witness of the Holy Spirit that the believer is born of God; the joy of religion which is the fruit of the spirit; and that now is the day of salvation” (History of Methodism in North Carolina, pg. 311).
The Great Revival reached hundreds “who could not have been reached through any other instrumentality” (History of Methodism in North Carolina, pg. 317).
Today, we have that same opportunity. We have all been impacted by COVID-19. Some people have been seeking for meaning in the midst of the Pandemic—meaning for life, hope for today and a dream for the future. We find our hope in faith in Jesus Christ. So, as we remember how our forefathers and foremothers in NC Methodism helped ignite the Great Revival in North Carolina, may we do the same today. Pray that God will bring new people to your congregation—some who may have not entered a church in years. As you do, give God the glory!
May the lyrics of Revival by Third Day,ring in your hearts and through your prayers, “Anybody here looking for revival, In our own hearts and across the land, Anybody looking for a revival, Lift up your voice and say Amen…Ain’t gonna find it in a politician,
Not from the government or any law, Can’t get it going by your own religion, Only by the Spirit and the Word of God…” Let revival begin with us!
Rev. Bryan Huffman
Member of NC Historical Society