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Why was John Wesley considered a trouble maker?

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John Wesley was born on the 17th of June 1703 and was the 15th of 19 children born to Samuel Wesley, Rector of Epworth, and his wife Susanna. Epworth was an extremely poor area and most people there could neither read nor write. But Susanna and Samuel Wesley wanted to do all that they could for this poor area and campaigned endlessly for social justice, particularly the care of widows and orphans. Both of John’s parents believed strongly that a Christian should have a life that combined both faith and good deeds. This view was to influence the work that both John, and his brother Charles, were to do later on in life. The Old Rectory in Epworth was the Wesley family home until 1735 but it had been rebuilt after fire destroyed the original building in 1709. It is thought that opponents of Samuel Wesley set the fire deliberately. The fire could have killed the six year-old John, but he escaped from a first floor window.

After attending Charterhouse school in London, John Wesley went on to Christ Church, Oxford, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1724 and a Masters degree three years later. It was in Oxford in 1726, where John helped establish the Holy Club, nicknamed ‘Methodist’ due to their strict method of studying the Bible. He was ordained a deacon in the Church of England in 1725 and then ordained as a priest in 1728.

Wesley spoke out strongly against ordinary people being excluded from the church. And although he was always fiercely loyal to the Church of England he was often barred from the preaching in churches due to his radical opinions. So, beginning in Bristol, he began to address the public in open areas, giving rise to ‘Field preaching’ as a feature of Methodism. For the rest of his life Wesley would preach to crowds, often numbering many thousands, throughout Britain and Ireland. Wesley however was not just a preacher and until his death in 1791 he continued to campaign on social issues such as prison reform and the right for all children to be educated. Wesley famously said, “I look upon the whole world as my parish”…

Today there are 300,000 members of the Methodist Church in Britain and throughout the world it is estimated that there are now around 70 million Methodists

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