Methodism 103

Today, I want to share an interesting story about John Wesley’s family. 

Wesley’s parents were Samuel and Susanna. Samuel was also an Anglican cleric as well as a poet. Samuel caught the favor of Queen Mary in 1693 after writing and dedicating a poem, The Life of Christ to the Queen. In 1697, the Queen appointed Samuel as the pastor at Epworth Church. At that time and even to this date, the Monarch was the head of the Church of England, so they had that authority. 

Susanna’s father was also a pastor. But he belonged to a group that sought to separate from the Church of England. However, when Susanna was 12 years old, she left her father’s church and joined the Church of England. 

As Samuel’s wife, she believed in a strong education for her children. Beginning on their 5th birthday, the children spent six hours a day learning Greek and Latin as well as other classical studies of the day. This along with religious studies, ethics, manners, and self-discipline included both her boys and her girls. 

On one occasion, Samuel was called to London to attend to some church matters. During that time, a substitute was appointed to lead the church. This substitute was not overly concerned with the spiritual needs of the people. A fact that caught Susanna’s attention. 

Susanna took matters in her own hands and began leading a service for her children in the afternoon. Soon, members of the community began attending. Eventually, over 200 people would attend her gathering while attendance at the morning service dwindled to near zero.

When the locum complained, Samuel wrote a letter to his wife asking her to cease with her work. Susanna’s reply was to explain how the spiritual needs of the people was not being addressed by the church and how her efforts were making a difference. But she continued, ‘if you order me to cease my efforts, I will. But rest assured, when I appear before God and He asks why I did not feed his sheep, I will tell him, “because my husband told me to stop.’’

Samuel wrote her back, ‘Carry on.’  

Susanna was a strong woman who took her faith seriously. Her work laid the foundation for women teachers, preachers, and leaders in the church. It also laid the foundation for the laity of the church to take the reins of leadership for what the church is meant to be.

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