John Wesley’s Stand is Randolph County’s last remaining example of a once familiar sight: the open-air tabernacle or brush arbor. A tradition handed down through the years, is that John Wesley, the renowned English clergyman and founder of the Methodist Church, passed through the area while on his way to Charlotte from Pennsylvania. He supposedly stopped and preached at the site which was said to be popular as a deer stand and used by hunters on their drives from Back Creek to Caraway Mountain in the 1700’s. John Wesley’s Stand was started in 1903 by the Rev. J.F. Burkhead of Asheboro. Worship was first held under a brush arbor after which a small frame church building was erected in 1906. The tabernacle was built in 1921. Surrounding both was a campground with a complex of outbuildings including a kitchen, dining room and dormitories to house preachers and workers during the annual camp meeting period. The quartz rock pillars of the tabernacle are an echo of the popular Bungalow style of that time. Wooden lattice-work originally filled the space between the pillars. Such a recent example of antique religious form is unusual.
The Rev. Burkhead served as pastor at John Wesley’s Stand for 34 years. Some of the time he walked the 14 mile distance to and from his home in Asheboro. At the age of 78, in the final years of his ministry, Rev. Burkhead re-enacted the worship services of the circuit rider days. The aged minister, dressed in the attire of a clergyman of earlier years, rode a horse to the service while members of the congregation were also dressed in the old fashioned attire. Rev. Burkhead’s ministry at John Wesley’s Stand ended in 1938 and his death occurred on August 18, 1944. John Wesley’s Stand was no longer used as a worship site and occasionally used for the storage of hay and farm equipment.