John Wesley Compiled by Rev. Ben Bohnsack for the celebration of John Wesley’s 300th birthday on June 22, 2003.
The founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley was born 300 years ago on June 17, 1703 in England. It’s important for us to understand the glorious heritage of our past as we seek to live out our future here at Nardin Park! His spirit is still with us in the ministry of Christ’s Spirit here! Here are some tidbits about which you can learn more…
- John was 15th of 19 children of Rev. Samuel and Susanna Wesley. Saved at the age of 6 from the burning rectory, Susanna saw God’s providence, that John was “a brand plucked from the burning.”
- Susanna was determined that all of her children be well educated, teaching them to cry softly in the nursery, to ask the blessing at mealtime by signs before they could speak, allowing them one day to learn the alphabet, spending one hour each week with each child talking about the beliefs of the church.
- Admitted to the famous Charterhouse school at age 10, John “entered Charterhouse a saint, and left it a sinner,” but also a scholar, on his way to Oxford at age 17, where he later taught and was ordained.
- John and his brother, Charles, organized a “Holy Club,” gathering regularly for prayer, Bible study, communion, and service to the poor. Their methodical rules brought their fellow students to mock them as “those Methodists!”
- Agonizing because in his mechanical rituals and rules he didn’t feel the faith he professed, John did everything he could to find the faith he sought: as a teacher, a priest, and a missionary to American Indians in Georgia. Failing it all, it was at a Moravian meeting in London on Aldersgate Street that he felt his “heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ… and an assurance was given me.”
- He took on an active, aggressive, enthusiastic ministry, with a message of God’s grace offered to every person and the moral ideals of the Gospel. His message and his manner were not welcome in the churches, and he was forced to take his message to the “open air,” in the cemeteries, fields, mines, and streets. “The world is my parish!” he proclaimed.
- Those who responded to his ministry were organized into small groups known as “Methodist societies,” served by lay preachers, under Wesley’s strong organizational abilities. It was this style which later was so well suited to the American frontier.
- Wesley traveled 250,000 miles on horseback, preached over 40,000 sermons, wrote or edited 400 books or tracts. The “Great Awakening” that happened as a result of his work transformed the face of morality in England and generated 80 denominations of Christians, with 76 million people in 138 countries of the world!
- Some worthy quotes… “Gain all you can; save all you can; give all you can.”
- “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”