Wednesday, March 2, 2011
John & Charles Wesley, Presbyters
John and Charles Wesley are counted to be founders of the Methodist church. Their father was a presbyter in the Church of England and they grew up with a Christian education. In October of 1735 they travelled to Georgia, and came into contact with the Moravians, and were inspired by the Moravian’s faith in God during a storm. Upon arriving in Georgia, the brother had hoped to be witnessing to the Amerindians, but were foiled in their attempts. In 1838, John had a conversion experience at a Moravian Church in Aldersgate, and went to study at Herrenhut, the center of the Moravian movement. John Wesley under George Whitfields’s influence began his open air preaching in 1739. He was unhappy about this as he wished no break with the Church of England, but the poor were not being reached and not going to church, and many of the clergy of the church of England closed their doors to him. As sinner were being saved, John began appointing lay preachers and began setting up rules for chapels and itinerant circuit preachers. Up until 1746, he would not baptize nor serve Holy Communion without approval of the Bishop. In 1748 his ideas on the Episcopate started changing, an by 1784 was ordaining presbyters and overseers for the church in the US, Scotland and England, though opposed by his brother Charles in this. After many years of preaching, he died March 2, 1791.
It was Charles that originally founded the Oxford Methodist group at Oxford, where his brother became leader. We note in passing, that part of the Method of the group was receiving the Holy Communion weekly and studying the Bible. Charles, while know mostly for his hymns (he wrote more than six thousand, was also a powerful preacher, and refused to break with the church of England.
The influence of John and Charles is tremendous. We still have many of Charles’s hymns and John’s sermons. Many believe that the Methodist revival helped change English society and helped prevent revolution. It is certain that their message not only transformed the lives of the poor, who were often forgotten by the Church of England, but also the rich, and led in various movements in which the rich began lending aid to the poor, including the construction of schools and orphanages.
The Methodist, Wesleyan, and many Pentecostal and Holiness churches trace their spiritual roots to Johns and Charles Wesley and the teaching of sanctification, somewhat similar to the Orthodox idea of theosis.
Collect: Dear Lord, you gave John and Charles Wesley zeal and gifts of preaching and songwriting. Raise up today preachers who truly are worried for the lost, the poor and the helpless, that we once again would be a community of true faithful proclaiming your word to those whom the world despises. This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who livers and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)