Samuel Wesley: Father of the Fathers of Methodism

Learn the story of Samuel Wesley, John & Charles Wesley's dad. A clergyperson whose relationship with his congregation was troubled, he raised two men who would become founders of Methodism.

Watch a video to learn more about John and Charles's mom Susanna. 

Script

Meet Rev. Samuel Wesley, the father of the fathers of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley!

Born in 1662, Samuel Wesley’s England had just gone through civil wars and came into a restored monarchy. As bishops were reinstated to parliament, a strict Anglican orthodoxy was established, creating a polarity among the people.

Graduating from Oxford University in 1688, Samuel Wesley was ordained as a clergyman in the Anglican Church.

In 1697, Rev. Samuel and his wife Susanna moved to the small town of Epworth to pastor St. Andrew's Church, where they raised their ten children. Epworth residents were strongly opposed to anyone who was monarchical, conservative or academic. Pastor Samuel was all three.

Epworth residents did everything they could to drive the Wesleys out of town - damaging crops, livestock, and refusing to pay tithes. A fire burned down the parsonage where the Wesleys lived, rumored to have been started by area residents.

A prolific writer, Samuel Wesley’s longing to become a respected author was never realized. Unfortunately, he was best known for leaving many debts to his family after his death in 1735.

History shows he wasn’t an exemplary father, but undoubtedly, Rev. Samuel Wesley had great influence on his children. In one of the letters he sent to his son John, Rev. Samuel shows his pride and joy by congratulating John on being elected a fellow of Lincoln College in Oxford.

Later, when John Wesley visited Epworth, he preached, using his father’s grave as a platform, perhaps honoring his memory. 

Samuel and Susannah may never have imagined the impact their sons John and Charles would have on the 18th century, but they clearly encouraged them to seek God, giving them tools that would revolutionize the Christian world to this day and in the days to come.

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Learn more church history on the website for the General Commission on Archives and History. And be sure to check out the history section on UMC.org to find other features like this.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN. Contact is Joe Iovino.

This video was posted on June 17, 2021.