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Countdown to Savannah: John Wesley and Savannah

Written by teaberry

In early 2007, we started our official Countdown to Savannah. Each Sunday, we posted a different topic about this special city where we met for our first Great Slow Travel Gathering in Spring 2008.

With 63 posts over 14+ months, we learned a lot about the many facets of this historic, hospitable and intriguing American city. Our weekly posts touched on Savannah's history, famous people, architecture, food, culture, surrounding area and much more. We hope this information acquaints you with Savannah, entices you to visit this historic city, and prepares you for a very memorable trip.

The Father of the Methodist Religion

John Wesley, an Englishman who came to Savannah and only stayed for 2 years, had a huge impact on the city and is better known as the father of the Methodist religion.

15th child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, he was born in England in 1703. His father was an Anglican rector, and his mother was a God-fearing woman who home-schooled all of her children.

At the age of 5, he was saved from a death-defying fire, and from that point onward, felt that his life was preserved in order to be of service and purpose - to fulfill God’s will.

While attending Oxford University, along with a few other colleagues, John Wesley formed a “holy club” that became involved in visiting the sick and ministering to the incarcerated. This small group followed religious teachings to the letter, and were quite methodical and idealistic in their practices; they became known as “Methodists.” After he was ordained as an Anglican priest at the age of 25, Wesley was approached by General Oglethorpe to spread his ministry in America.

So, along with his brother, Charles Wesley, John came to Savannah, Georgia, in 1735, with a unique mission – to proselytize to the Indians and bring Christianity to the New World. John Wesley was a strident man, and quite high-minded in his beliefs. He would not succumb to what he considered the petty life, and this very haughtiness and lack of flexibility sometimes cost him support and general popularity. But he worked hard to spread his mission to all of the inhabitants of Savannah and its environs.

John Wesley returned to England in 1737, but his mission to establish Methodism in America did not end. In fact, it was only the beginning. He sent emissaries, missionaries, and lay preachers to spread the word of the faith, and this actually marked the inception of what is now known as the evangelical movement, both in England and America. As he was considered somewhat of a maverick in his quest to save peoples’ souls, Wesly and his disciples were often banned from chapels; thus began the “field preaching” movement, and this is essentially how the Methodist religion spread – the first original grassroots campaign.

John Wesley accomplished much during and after his tenure in Savannah, particularly the establishment of Christ Church, the first Anglican Church in Savannah. There are numerous Methodist churches throughout the city, and all due to the legacy of John Wesley. Today, the Methodist religion comprises the 2nd largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.

There are over 21 Wesleyan Universities in the United States, in case you were wondering. All named after John Wesley. My son graduated from one of them.

Read more about John Wesley here and here.

Read more about the Christ Church in Savannah.

Resources

All About Savannah: Links to many information pages about Savannah (where to eat, where to stay, places of interest, getting around town, and more)


Author: teaberry is a nurse anesthetist who enjoys hiking, gardening, family, traveling, reading, playing piano, art, cooking, and anthropology - not necessarily in that order.


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