Asbury United Methodist Church is the oldest Methodist congregation in Duluth. Methodism came to Duluth in May, 1856, when Rev. James Peet paddled his canoe from the city of Superior, Wisconsin, across to Oneota in West Duluth, near the present Bong Bridge. For a while, Rev. Peet met with worshipers in their West Duluth homes. In a short time the congregation formed the L.F. Merritt Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church and built at 46th Avenue West and West Michigan Street. The church was named in honor of its first pastor, L.F. Merritt, a member of the famous Merritt family who pioneered the iron mining industry in northern Minnesota.
In June, 1889, a second Methodist congregation was formed. The Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church building was located at 61st Avenue West and Raleigh Street, not far from our current location.
The merger of the Merritt and Asbury churches occurred in the fall of 1921. The Merritt building was moved to Central Avenue and renamed Central Avenue Methodist Church. The final service at the Central Avenue building was held in April, 1992.
In 1905 the Bethany congregation was formed. Originally this church was named the Second Norwegian Danish Methodist Episcopal Church. The building was located at 65th Avenue West and Polk Street and remains there today. The congregation changed its name to Bethany Norwegian Methodist Church in 1909 when the building was dedicated. Bethany’s final service took place in October, 1989.
In the fall of 1989 the Bethany and Central Avenue congregations merged to form the present Asbury United Methodist Church. This congregation met and worshiped at the Central Avenue building until the new building was ready for occupancy in the spring of 1992. The stained glass window at the entrance of Asbury comes from the Bethany church. The three stained glass windows behind the altar are from the Central Avenue Church and originally from the Merritt church.
Ground was broken for Asbury United Methodist Church on June 23, 1991. The cornerstone, which contains a time capsule, was laid in 1992. Rev. James Haun officiated at its first worship service April 5, 1992. Rev. Haun was succeeded by Rev. Paul Bosshardt in July 1992. Rev. Bosshardt became our District Superintendent in 2000, serving until his retirement in 2007. Rev. Sharon K. R. Osborn served as pastor from July 2000 through July 2010. Rev. Kathleen S. Zielinski served as pastor from July 2010 until July 2012. Our current pastor is Rev. Cindy M. Rasmussen.