Dear Friends in Christ~
I am fresh back from the Wesley Pilgrimage I was privileged to participate in for 11 amazing days. We began each day in worship and sharing communion then ending each day with Compline worship. Mike and I, during the pilgrimage, followed the footsteps of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist movement, throughout England. We began in Salisbury, where we learned that the Wesley brothers didn’t start out to create a new Protestant sect, rather, they wanted to interject an energy of renewal into the Church of England. To do that they preached about the way of salvation, they formed covenant discipleship groups that focused on compassion, justice, devotion and worship, they encouraged accountability in discipleship through works of piety such as prayer & fasting, immersion in scriptures and participating in Christian Fellowship. The Wesleys created formative worship through communion and hymn singing and they felt called by God to be in mission since mission defines whom we are and what we do as Christians. The Wesleys taught by example works of mercy showing compassion and justice. They defined the missional church as one where Jesus is at the center and that Christian fellowship is mandatory because Christianity cannot be achieved in solitude. Through discipline we discover love and our reason for being is to love God and others. Our reason for being is to also go into the world to be in mission.
We journeyed to Oxford where John and Charles Wesley formed the first covenant group (band) and began a prison ministry. We visited Christ Church, which was the college of John & Charles. We had to pay a hefty entry fee since this was where they filmed the Harry Potter movies. If you ask I’ll show you my pictures of the dining hall! Fun fact: Oxford isn’t a university, but rather a federation of 24 separated colleges, so degrees are from the individual college, there is no such thing as a degree from Oxford, only one of the colleges.
We visited Asbury’s childhood home in Swanwick, then we made our way to Epworth, the childhood home of the Wesleys. The Rector denied John the opportunity to preach in St. Andrew’s church (the church his father had pastored and where he was buried). That being the case, John stood on his father’s tombstone and preached about “righteousness, peace and the joy in the Holy Ghost.” We also toured the Old Rectory where the Wesleys grew up then we had lunch in the Methodist church where we were shown extraordinary hospitality.
Next we journeyed to Bristol and the New Room. This is where I felt closest to the Wesleys. This is where Charles lived with his wife and children and where he wrote the majority of his hymns. The New Room was a preaching house where John trained people to preach the word. Bristol was where John went into the fields to preach to the miners in the coal pits and their families.
The Pilgrimage ended in London. We spent a lot of time at Wesley’s Chapel and House where John finished out his life. We had a group picture taken at the site on Aldersgate Street where John Wesley’s heart was “strangely warmed” and he “felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation.” We attended Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral (where the bird lady in Mary Poppins sat selling her wares). That evening, during the worship service, we gave testimonies (sharing our experiences) of how we were touch by the Holy Spirit during the Pilgrimage.
I am so very appreciative of having been given the opportunity to experience this time in England learning more about the Methodist movement. It was inspiring to be able to be in fellowship with people from all over the world and to be able to share this amazing time with Mike…by the way, make sure to ask him about seeing the queen and the royal family 😉