A unimaginable journey

Today I joined forty lay and clergy Methodists from seventeen Annual Conferences on a journey I had never imagined possible. We have come to England to study, reflect, remember, and experience anew the Wesleyan movement. Today we stand over 250 years removed from the reality of John and Charles Wesley, but the fruit of their labors continue to warm the hearts of Methodists around the world, including my own.

This afternoon our diverse group of pilgrims gathered for the first time at Sarum College in Salisbury. We visited Salisbury Methodist Church, a congregation with historical connections to the founding days of Methodism. Susanna Wesley lived in Salisbury, which provided occasion for her son John to visit and begin preaching in the city. John later would sign the deed for what is now Salisbury Methodist Church. Another interesting connection, in 1770 Francis Asbury, the father of American Methodism, was appointed as the superintendent minister of the Salisbury circuit—today comprising 12 churches. In 1771, while still pastoring in Salisbury, Francis Asbury attended the Methodist Conference in Bristol and answered John Wesley’s call for missionaries to America.

As a life-long Methodist, who heard the stories of John, Charles, Samuel, and Suzana from the pulpit, in Sunday School, and at bed time, the Wesleys have been more than figures from a distant past. They are both faith companions and models of Christian discipleship. Their life and work continue to influence my life and ministry. I am immensely grateful to my congregation, Belmont United Methodist Church, for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing journey. I am thankful to serve with colleagues who support, inspire, and challenge me.