Another reminder from Writer’s Almanac of a great man in history. I will be using this for a reflection tonight at our Parent Information Evening for next year’s Year 9.

Today is the birthday of the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley (1703). He was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire, England, and his father was a Nonconformist — a dissenter from the Church of England. Wesley studied at Oxford, where he decided to become a priest. He and his brother joined a religious study group that was given the nickname “the Methodists” for their rigorous and methodical study habits; the name wasn’t meant as a compliment, but Wesley hung onto it anyway and managed to attract several new members to the group, which fasted two days a week and spent time in social service.

By 1739, he felt he wasn’t really reaching people from the pulpit, so he took to the fields, traveling on horseback, preaching two or three times a day. He began recruiting local laypeople to preach as well, and ran afoul of the Church of England for doing so. He believed that Christians could be made “perfect in love” when their actions arose out of a desire to please God and to promote the welfare of the less fortunate. He wrote: “Love is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment. It is not only ‘the first and great’ command, but all the commandments in one. ‘Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise,’ they are all comprised in this one word, love.”

He was also an ardent abolitionist. …

He’s said to have traveled 250,000 miles, preached 40,000 sermons, and written, translated, or edited more than 200 volumes. He made £20,000 for his publications but gave most of it away and died in poverty. Though there’s no evidence that he actually wrote it himself, “John Wesley’s Rule” does a fair job of summing up his life:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.