Category Archives: Oxford

Methodist Church in Oxford, UK repairing stained glass

Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in Oxford continues work on its stained glass windows.

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Wesley Memorial Methodist Church on John Wesley and Oxford

In the sanctuary of Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in Oxford, I found a number of flyers. One was entitled John Wesley and Oxford.

John Wesley entered Christ Church as an undergraduate at the university in June 1720.

He graduated in 1724 and on September 19, 1725 was ordained deacon by Bishop Potter. He delivered his first sermon shortly after at Fleet-Marston, a small village east of Oxford.

In 1726, Wesley became a fellow at Lincoln College where he received free board and lodging with a small stipend which was increased when he became Greek lecturer and class moderator.

Wesley was ordained a priest in 1728 and he went home to Epworth to assist his father.

Lincoln College recalled Wesley in 1729. He found that his brother Charles, William Morgan and Robert Kirkham had joined in study of the Greek Testament and attending the Sacrament on Sundays. This was the beginning of the Holy Club and what Wesley called the first rise of Methodism.

Morgan introduced the group to social work. He went with the brothers to the Castle Prison where they met debtors and criminals.

The group became know for religious observances. They took the Sacrament as often as possible, fasted twice a week and recited a collect at the hours of 9, 12 and 3. They were called a number of names including Methodists.

Wesley preaches at the university in 1738, 1741 and 1744. His last sermon was critical of the university for its sluggishness and spiritual apathy. Later he preached in private homes in Oxford to Methodist societies.

When he was married in 1751, he was required to resign his fellowship at Lincoln College.

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Green on Wesley and Oxford

Oxford shaped John Wesley. In his book The Young Mr. Wesley, V.H.H. Green wrote about Wesley’s love for Oxford:

Occasionally in his later years he had looked back to the comparative tranquility and youthful enthusiasm of his Oxford days, “Let me be again an Oxford Methodist,” he wrote to his brother Charles in 1772. “I am often in doubt whether it would not be best for me to resume all my Oxford rules, great and small. I did then walk closely with God and redeem the time time. But what have I been doing these 30 years?”

There were clearly times in after life when he wished he was still a fellow of Lincoln. He could not return to Oxford without a feeling of nostalgia. “I love the very sight of Oxford,” he said in his Plain Account of Kingswood School, “I love the manner of life; I love and esteem many of its institutions.”

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Green on Wesley and the Holy Club, Oxford

In 1726, Charles Wesley entered Christ Church as a student. After enjoying his start into college life, Charles determined to work harder and become more dedicated to the ideals he had learned at Epworth. He began meeting with a few young men weekly for readings in the Bible and discussion. In his book Young Mr. Wesley, V.H.H. Green notes that John Wesley returned from Epworth to work as a fellow at Lincoln College and joined the group.

In John Wesley’s oft-quoted words:

In November 1729, four young gentlemen of Oxford, Mr. John Wesley, Fellow of Lincoln College; Mr. Charles Wesley, student of Christ Church; Mr. Morgan, Commissioner of Christ Church; and Mr. Kirkham of Merton College began to spend some evenings in a week together, in reading chiefly the Greek Testament.

John’s devotional life had already a pattern which fitted in well with the society. He regularly attended the Communion service at Christ Church on Sunday morning at quarter past seven, usually breakfasting with Charles afterwards. On weekdays, he rose at an increasingly early hour, at any time between five and six, engaged in private prayer, read some devotional work and the Green Testament; throughout the day he sought to remind himself of his vocation.

The Holy Club widened its activities, visiting the sick and the Oxford prisoners at the Castle and the Bocardo. At first, Wesley confined his visits to the Castle to Saturday afternoons, but he soon went more frequently.

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Lincoln College famous alumni

Lincoln College at Oxford named John Wesley a fellow in 1726. The school remembers him in its list of famous alumni.

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Green on Wesley at Lincoln College, Oxford

After his graduation from Christ Church, John Wesley became a fellow of Lincoln College. In his book, The Young Mr. Wesley, V.H.H. Green writes:

John Wesley was admitted to his fellowship on March 27, 1726. His fellowship provided financial security with an annual salary of 60 pounds.

He drew up a scheme of studies….He would now concentrate as far as possible on what seemed serious and important to him. Mondays and Tuesdays were to be for the study of Roman and Greek history and literature; Wednesdays for logics and ethics; Thursdays for studies in Hebrew and Arabic; Fridays for metaphysics and Natural Philosophy; Saturdays for the composition of poetry and oratory; Sundays for Divinity. He would not keep these resolutions but the anxiety to use his time to the best advantage was one of the factors which contributed to his decision that the secret of the right use of time was early rising in the morning.

He was able to request leave from Lincoln College and returned to Epworth where he stayed from 1727 to 1729 while making short trips to Oxford.

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Open Doors of Weslely Memorial Methodist Church in Oxford

When we visited Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in July, we found them true to their open doors policy. We had taken the bus from London to Oxford and arrived in pouring rain. The stop was in front of Christ Church. We got our bearings and made our way to New Inn Hall Street. I remember the front door to the church being open, and shaking my umbrella and raincoat off as we entered. The church is in the busy downtown area and the streets were busy with several people walking into the church to see the beautiful sanctuary and its stained glass windows.

The church’s Open Doors brochure outlines building improvement plans to be welcoming, hospitable and flexible. A new entrance will encourage more visitors to enter the building and take advantage of available activities and facilities. The church want to create a place of encounter, belonging and hope for everyone while leaving room for new ideas and upgrades.

Inspired by the Past

Oxford is the city where for many, Methodism was born. There has been a Methodist Chapel on this site for nearly 200 years and the Open Doors Project seeks to fulfill the mission of the Wesleys: to worship God and to reach out to others.

Planning for the future

We occupy a prime site in Oxford and have unique opportunities for witness and service. Our redevelopment project, which is estimated at 1.2 million pounds, aims to bring the facilities at Wesley Memorial in line with th needs of the 21st Century.

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Green on Wesley at Christ Church, Oxford

John Wesley spent his university days in Oxford attending Christ Church. The school dates back to the 1500s with action by Henry VIII establishing the college and Anglican cathedral. The dean is always a clergyman. Wesley attended Christ Church from 1720 to 1726. In his book The Young Mr. Wesley, V.H.H. Green writes:

John Wesley came up to Oxford, an earnest, high-minded, young man, to one of the most diversified societies in existence, for Christ Church, then under the direction of Dean Boulter, was not merely the largest but the most distinguished college in the university.

There is no information available about Wesley’s studies as an undergraduate but he doubtless performed conscientiously the barren exercises necessary for his degree.

After Wesley had graduated as a bachelor of arts in 1724, he remained in Oxford, presumably using his rooms in Christ Church, to fulfill the exercises necessary for the master’s degree.

He was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Potter of Oxford on Sunday, September 19, 1725.

He was elected to a fellowship at Lincoln College in March 1726.

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Wesley Memorial Methodist repairs stained glass

The Facebook page of Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in Oxford reports that scaffolding went up today for the restoration of the church’s stained glass window that displays flowers and plants of the Bible.

The church opened in 1878 featuring the stained-glass windows in the East and West. The windows need urgent attention. An architect confirms that ‘the East Window is at risk if the lower panels are not straightened and re-attached to the saddle bars…’ and the Rose Window has ‘suffered distortion’ resulting in the panels bulging outwards.

The church launched an Appeal for the Victorian Windows in March. Through the generosity of several individual donors, the ‘virtual’ wedding presents on behalf of a newly-married couple and a grant from Oxfordshire Historic Churches’ Trust, the church raised £47,000 for the renovations.

Work is due to start on 11 August and take eight weeks.

–Summer 2014 Wesley Memorial News

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John Wesley in Oxford

John Wesley had a number of connections to Oxford, UK.

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