Religious Leader, Theologian. He is credited with the foundation of the evangelical movement known as Methodism. His work and writings also played a leading role in the later development of the Holiness movement and Pentecostalism. The son of Anglican rector Samuel Wesley, he received his early education at home and in 1714 he was sent to Charterhouse School in London, England. In June 1720 he entered Christ Church at Oxford, England, graduating in 1724 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. In September 1725 he was ordained a deacon and the following March, he was elected a fellow of Lincoln College at Oxford. While continuing his studies for his Master's Degree. In August 1727 he returned to home town of Epworth, England and served at the nearby town of Wroote, and in September 1728 he was ordained a priest and served as the parish curate for two years. He returned to Oxford in November 1729 at the request of the Rector of Lincoln College and to maintain his status as junior Fellow. In October 1735 he travelled with to Savannah in the Georgia Colony of British America at the request of the governor, James Oglethorpe, to become the minister of the Savannah parish. While on the journey, he came into contact with Moravian settlers and was deeply influenced by their faith and spiritual pietism. His mission in Savannah was unsuccessful, and he was constantly beset by troubles in the colonies and he returned to England, depressed and beaten. In May 1738 he experienced an evangelical "conversion" at a Moravian meeting in Aldersgate Street in London and travelled to the Moravian headquarters at Herrnhut, Germany to study. After returning to England the following year, he began his career as a traveling preacher, ministering in the open air since most churches refused to allow him to preach. He broke with the Moravians in late 1739 and began preaching his own doctrine, working among the neglected and needy, and he and his followers were greatly persecuted in the press and physically by the religious status quo. He usually traveled on horseback, preaching two or three times each day. He formed societies, opened chapels, examined and commissioned preachers, administered aid charities, prescribed for the sick, helped to pioneer the use of electric shock for the treatment of illness, superintended schools and orphanages, abstained from meat and wine, and received at least £20,000 for his publications but used little of it for himself. Later in his ministry, he was a keen abolitionist, speaking out and writing against the slave trade. He published a pamphlet on slavery entitled "Thoughts Upon Slavery" (1774). In 1778 he began the publication of The Arminian Magazine. He died at the age of 87. In 1954 the Radio and Film Commission of the Methodist Church in cooperation with J. Arthur Rank produced the film "John Wesley," a live-action re-telling of the story of his life, with Leonard Sachs as Wesley. In 2009 Foundery Pictures produced the film "Wesley" about the life of him and his brother that featured Burgess Jenkins as John Wesley, R. Keith Harris as Charles Wesley, and June Lockhart as Susanna Wesley, the wife of Charles Wesley. He is commemorated in the Calendar of Saints of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on March 2nd with his brother Charles. The Wesley brothers are also commemorated on March 3rd in the Calendar of Saints of the Episcopal Church and on May 24th in the Anglican calendar. Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut is named in his honor.
Bio by: William Bjornstad
Mary Vazeille Wesley