Sunday 22 May 2016

The Mother Of Methodism

Having spotted the birthplace of Susanna Wesley on Wednesday, I felt I ought to find out a bit more about this woman, often called 'the Mother of Methodism'. 
Susanna's father, Dr Samuel Annesley, was one of the Anglican priests ejected from the C of E for his nonconformist teachings. The youngest of 25 children [not all survived infancy!] she grew up listening to her father's teachings. In contemporary terms, Susanna would be considered a liberated woman. This mostly because her father gained the freedoms found in Scripture. These not only enlightened Susanna, but these revolutionary ideals eventually became the teachings of her own home.
She married Samuel Wesley - whose father [Rev John Westley-Samuel] had also been thrown out of the Anglican fold. Despite his heritage, Samuel became an Anglican vicar, and they settled in Whitchurch, Dorset [more local history for me to explore!] They had 19 children - ten of whom died in infancy. 
Her husband, bless him, has been described as a 'poor pastor, and worse preacher' [he was no good with family finances either and often fell into debt] They moved to Epworth in Lincolnshire. Susanna was an amazing mother, managing the family [and the parish during her husband's frequent absences] She told her children that she needed to pray regularly - and when she threw her voluminous apron up over her face and head, the family knew she was in prayer, and would be quiet and well behaved until her 'Amen'. I suspect fear of severe punishment rather than deep spirituality was what was keeping the Wesley brood silent.[I never dared try this technique on my girls when they were younger]

In 1709, the Epworth Rectory caught fire - everyone escaped, except young John. Convinced he'd died in the flames, his father started praying for his son's soul- then a cry was heard from an upper window. The boy was rescued, alive and unharmed.
Susanna described him as 'a brand plucked from the burning' and impressed on the child that God had saved him for a great purpose.
John Wesley grew up, and founded Methodism, and his brother Charles wrote thousands of hymns - many of which are still sung every week in churches across the world. Both men spoke often of the profound influence their mother's faith had upon their lives. Susanna Wesley is the forerunner of women preachers in John Wesley’s Methodist movement. At the time of her death, John acknowledged that she was a preacher and a priest in the family. Even to those outside of the immediate family, her preaching was e well known. She was born in 1669 in London - and died there in 1742. She was buried in Bunhill Fields, the great nonconformist burial ground. [Thankyou FreebornG for this interesting link which you sent me on Friday]

Her tombstone reads
In sure and certain hope to rise
And claim her mansion in the skies
A Christian here, her flesh laid down
The cross exchanging for a crown

She had a really difficult life, but her strong faith sustained her, and her influence on her sons helped form their characters. I genuinely believe that because England had John Wesley and Methodism, we did not have the bloody revolutions which were sweeping across Europe. Susanna said - and lived -these words..
There are two things to do about the Gospel
...Believe it and behave it


  1. I should take to wearing aprons, I think! Seriously, she is very inspirational. x

  2. Wow, what an interesting woman. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is so nice to know where the Wesley brothers came from!

  3. Thank you for this post. I'd never heard any of this-very interesting!


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