Looking forward to Epworth, part 2

While the Old Rectory seems to hold center stage when it comes to John Wesley in Epworth, the town does offer a Wesley tour. Another one of the major sites on the tour is St Andrews Parish Church, the church Samuel Wesley served as rector from 1695 to 1735. Samuel Wesley is buried on the church grounds.

Here is a photo of John Wesley preaching while standing on top of his father’s grave.

John Wesley made his first preaching visit to his home town, Epworth in Lincolnshire, in June 1742. He had not been there for seven years, since the time of his father’s funeral. Because he was an ordained minister in the Church of England and because his father had been Rector in Epworth for forty years, he asked the Curate if he might assist him on the Sunday morning, either in reading prayers or preaching. But the Curate, knowing of Wesley’s itinerant ministry, had no intention of having a ‘rebel’ preacher in his pulpit. Following the service, Wesley’s travelling assistant, John Taylor, stood at the church gate and announced: ‘Mr Wesley, not being permitted to preach in the church, designs to preach here at six o’clock.’ The news spread like wildfire! ‘Old parson Wesley’s son be back and he be preaching in the churchyard!’ The whole area was packed with people as the be-gowned Oxford don and open-air revivalist took his stand on his father’s flat tombstone. While the church authorities could forbid John Wesley from preaching in the pulpit or the graveyard, they could not prevent his standing on his father’s grave, for it was Wesley family property.



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