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Getting Coke Out of Asbury’s Shadow:. His Legacy for American Methodists. United Methodist Church Heritage Sunday 2014 General Commission on Archives and History. England in the Time of Thomas Coke. Five Major Areas that Shape Coke’s Life and Ministry

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getting coke out of asbury s shadow

Getting Coke Out of Asbury’s Shadow:

His Legacy for American Methodists

United Methodist Church Heritage Sunday 2014General Commission on Archives and History

england in the time of thomas coke
England in the Time of Thomas Coke

Five Major Areas that Shape Coke’s Life and Ministry

Wars and Uprisings are Common Occurrences

Slave Trade

No Interest in Christian Missions

English Churches’ Malaise Towards the Needs

of the People

The Enlightenment

coke s life education marriages and meeting john wesley
Coke’s Life, Education, Marriagesand Meeting John Wesley
  • Thomas Coke is born on September 28, 1747, in Brecon, Wales.
  • Coke earns both a B.A (1767) and M.A. (1770) at Jesus College, Oxford University. He later earns a D.C.L. in 1775.
  • Anglican Church ordains Coke a deacon (1770) and priest (1772) and begins his career at South Petherton (1771).
  • Coke meets John Wesley for the first time on August 13, 1776. Thus begins a close relationship until Wesley’s death.
  • He will twice marry later in life. First to Penelope Goulding Smith (1805) and then to Anne Loxdale (1811). Coke outlives both spouses.
  • Coke dies on May 14, 1814 while sailing to India in order to establish a Methodist mission.

Jesus College Chapel,

Oxford University - 1814

coke and wesley
Coke and Wesley
  • Coke becomes the elder Wesley’s favored helper in administrating the church.
  • Coke helps to draft the Deed of Declaration which made the British Methodist Conference heir to Wesley’s authority upon his death. He is instrumental in shaping the Deed of Trust as well. Coke made sure both documents go into effect.
  • The 1784 Plan for the Society for the Establishment of Missions among the Heathens is finally approved by Wesley in 1786 which opens up mission fields in American colonies, West Indies and West Africa.

First Original John Wesley

Portrait Brought to the American Colonies

Artist Unknown - 1771

the doctor s concerns for the church
The Doctor’s Concerns for the Church
  • A strong advocate to end slavery in the American and West Indies.
  • Revivalism, open air preaching and support of camp meetings to keep God and Methodism relevant to the populace and spiritually empowered.
  • Missions, missions and more missions!

Letter Expressing the

Desire for Foreign Missions Work

January 6, 1782

thomas coke and his american experience
Thomas Coke and His American Experience
  • Wesley sends him to ordain Methodist ministers in order for the church have full access to proper leadership and sacraments.
  • Thomas Coke will make a total of nine trips to the American church. During this time his role as bishop diminishes.
  • Coke pushes for the idea and establishment of a General Conference despite Asbury’s early misgivings.
  • Education becomes an important priority. Coke is the mover and shaker behind Cokesbury College.
  • Anti-slavery sermons often put him at odds with many Americans.
  • Coke prepares a new Discipline in 1792 which grants regulatory practices for the denomination to General Conference.

Coke’s Letter of Introduction to American Methodists from

John Wesley - 1784

asbury ordination and controversy
Asbury Ordination and Controversy
  • Coke arrives in New York on November 3, 1784, with Whatcoat and Vasey. He will meet Asbury eleven days later.
  • During the 1784 Christmas Conference at Lovely Lane Chapel in Baltimore, Coke will ordain Asbury on successive days deacon, elder and superintendent as voted and directed by the ministers in attendance.
  • A resolution for the emancipation of slaves is accepted.
  • Charles and John Wesley take issues with both the act and title of bishop. Charles with the former and John with the latter.
coke and asbury
Coke and Asbury
  • Their relationship is complicated due to their respective personalities and events. What starts out as a friendly working relationship ends with coldness and isolation for Coke.
  • They are almost the same age, but other than that they have little in common.
  • Asbury gives Coke a warm greeting during their first meeting at Barrett’s Chapel.
  • They will jointly visit George Washington, publish the first edition of the Arminian Magazine, create the Chartered Fund and establish Cokesbury College.
  • What starts out as a joint superintendency in 1784 ends up leaving Coke with no power or influence whatsoever by 1808. Asbury is the driving force behind this action.
lending coke to english methodists
“Lending” Coke to English Methodists
  • The 1804 General Conference grants Coke leave to go back to Europe but is on stand-by if three annual conferences need him. Coke is to return for the next General Conference
  • The 1808 General Conference marks the end for Coke’s direct supervision over American Methodism. The conference strongly recommends that he continue his current role in Europe. Nor is Coke allowed to come back to the American church unless recalled by General Conference or by all the annual conferences. Neither options are used by the American Methodists.

Partial Letter to Ezekiel Cooper dated March 6, 1802. Coke desires to attend the 1804 General Conference.

coke as leader scholar and methodist missionary
Coke as Leader, Scholar, and Methodist Missionary
  • Coke was Oxford University trained, became a Chief Magistrate (Mayor), ordained Anglican priest, Wesley’s confidant and early leader of Methodism.
  • Presided over both the Irish and British Conferences.
  • Becomes the first Superintendent/Bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • Authors a set of Biblical commentaries and a History of the West Indies.
  • Primary force behind the founding of Cokesbury College.
  • Establishes missions in West Indies and America and eventually West Africa. Coke dies on the way to India to do set up mission work.

Ordination of West Indies Missionary - 1796

coke s enduring legacy
Coke’s Enduring Legacy
  • Zealously interested in overseas missionary work in America, West Indies, Africa and India.
  • First Superintendent/Bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • Leading role in preparing and put in effect the Deed of Declaration, Deed of Trust, Chartered Fund, 1792 Book of Disciplineand Arminian Magazine.
  • The force behind establishing the importance of higher education for American Methodists – Cokesbury College.
  • Generous in spirit, finances and time to the cause of Methodism on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.

Plan to Establish Foreign Missions LetterJanuary 6, 1782

selected bibliography
Selected Bibliography
  • Coke, Thomas. To the Benevolent Subscribers for the Support of the Missions: Carried on by Voluntary Contributions in the British Islands, in the West-Indies, for the Benefit of the Negros and Caribbs. London: 1789.
  • ___________. The Substance of a Sermon Preached as Baltimore, in the State of Maryland, on the 27th of December, 1784, as the Ordination of the Re, Francis Asbury, to the Office of a Superintendent. Baltimore: Goddard and Langworthy, 1785
  • ___________. A Commentary on the Holy Bible. London: 1801-1807.
  • ___________. The Doctrine and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. Philadelphia: Solomon W. Conrad, 1801.
  • ___________ and Francis Asbury. An Address to the Annual Subscribers for the Support of Cokesbury College, and to the Members of the Methodist Society: to Which are Added, the Rules and Regulations of the College. New York: W. Ross, 1787.
  • __________________________. The Doctrine and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in America / with Explanatory Notes. Philadelphia: Henry Tuckniss, 1798
  • Daniels, W. H. The Illustrated History of Methodism. New York: Phillips and Hunt, 1880.
  • Simpson, Matthew, editor. “Coke, Thomas, LL.D.,” Cyclopedia of Methodism. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1882.
  • Smith, Warren Thomas. Thomas Coke: The Foreign Minister of Methodism, 3rd Printing. Lake Junaluska: Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church, 1976.
  • Spellman, Norman W. “Thomas Coke and American Methodism,” Encyclopedia of World Methodism. Vol. 1. Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1974.
  • Thomas Coke Papers. Drew University Methodist Collection. Madison, New Jersey.
  • Vickers, John A. “Coke, Thomas (1747-1814),” Encyclopedia of World Methodism. Vol. 1. Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1974.
  • ____________. The Journals of Dr. Thomas Coke. Nashville: Kingswood Books, 2005.
  • ____________. The Letters of Dr. Thomas Coke. Nashville: Kingswood Books, 2013.
  • ____________. Thomas Coke Revisted. Evesham: Wesley Historical Society, 2009.