Monthly Archives: May 2014

UM Reporter: Back to the Roots

Donald Haynes Feb 2013 article

A number of people have written to tell me they plan (or wish) to go on a Methodist heritage tour, retracing the steps of John Wesley from his birthplace in Epworth to his grave on City Road in London. This is a very rewarding experience; I have made the trip seven times, always learning something new and feeling newly inspired—though we must guard against making an icon of the man to whom we owe so much.


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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Looking forward to Epworth

I link Epworth with Children’s Home. In Columbia SC where I attended college, Epworth helps to build love and family for children 4-18 who may never have experienced a loving family.

Epworth also brings to mind the boyhood home of John Wesley. I have found it is far north of London and not an easy place to reach. We think a train to Nottingham and then a car ride may be the quickest way to get there.

At Epworth is the Old Rectory where Samuel and Susannah raised the three sons: Samuel, John and Charles and their seven daughters. The story from John Wesley’s life that we associate with the town is of the rectory burning down and five-year old John being rescued, a brand plucked from the burning. The fire took place in 1709.

The building was repaired and the family remained in the house until Samuel died in 1735. The building continued to serve the church rector until it was sold to the British Methodist Church in 1954. Several years afterward, it opened as a museum. A 2 million pound, four-phase plan is underway to restore the building to the way it looked when the Wesley’s called it home.

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Aldersgate site marked by flame

Methodists mark May 24 as Aldersgate Day. in 1738 on that date, John Wesley ‘experienced confirmation of his salvation by the grace of God’ in a meeting room on Aldersgate Street. Wesley wrote: I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

The meeting room no longer exists in London. But the site is marked with a large flame monument. The monument is on Aldersgate Street in Nettleton Court. Here is the text on the monument.

The monument is along the John Wesley Walking tour offered by the Methodist Heritage website that also includes Wesley Chapel and St Paul’s Cathedral.

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Reading about John Wesley

I have begun collecting books about John Wesley. I have been able to find them quicker than I find time to read them. Living near Duke University, I have had Duke students/graduates recommend books by faculty.

I really liked the Barrie Tabraham book The Making of Methodism. Of late, I have been reading a compilation of Wesley writings by Albert Outler. Here are some of the books I’ve picked up. I would love your suggestions.

Wesley and the People Called Methodists
Richard P. Heitzenrater

Mirror and Memory
Richard P. Heitzenrater

Aldersgate Reconsidered
Randy Maddox

The Methodist Conference in America
Russell Richey

The Making of Methodism
Barrie Tabraham Continue reading

Making plans to visit England

My wife and I plan to travel to England in July. We are making plans to visit several sites important to John Wesley and the Methodist Church.

We plan to visit

We plan to visit Oxford, too. I am trying to determine the best site to visit.

My hope is to find someone at each of these sites that will talk on camera for a brief interview talking about Wesley, his ties to that community and his accomplishments for Methodism.

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Welcome to johnwesleyblog

I am a lifelong member of the Methodist Church. I am interested in finding out more about John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. I have begun collecting books about Wesley. My wife and I plan to travel to England in July and visit important Wesley historical sites. I look forward to sharing what I learn about John Wesley and hope you will share what you know with me.

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