Shaking off the Curse of Whitefield

Published 6:46 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018

To the editor:

Matt Debnam’s update on Bath and its upcoming Blackbeard 300 event in October is appreciated. However, it was not George Winfield but George Whitefield, the Billy Graham of his day, who is credited with putting the curse on Bath in the 18th century stunting its growth.

The famed friend of Benjamin Franklin, and companion of John Wesley and Francis Asbury, whose statue alongside theirs as founders of American Methodism helps welcome visitors to Duke University Chapel, was following Jesus’ instructions to the disciples he sent out to preach the good news, also telling them: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” (Matthew 10:14-15)

Apparently Whitefield, for all his power as a preacher, one Benjamin Franklin liked so much that he wouldn’t take money with him when Whitefield preached for fear he’d give it all away, didn’t go over well with his hearers in Bath and he is credited with having stunted the village’s growth by laying a curse on it, just as Jesus had suggested to the Twelve. Maybe this 300th Anniversary of Blackbeard will help remove Whitefield’s curse and Bath will boom. Or at least Blackbeard’s cannons will.

Charles Michael Smith

Retired United Methodist Minister