Monday, April 12, 2010

Oh, John!...

So I'm listening to my history lectures on Friday coming home, and the prof is talking about colonial Georgia.  It seems one of the early one of the early visitors was John Wesley - the founder of Methodism.  He then causally mentioned the trip was a fiasco because of Wesley's affair with a parishoner.

Say what?   Don't remember that from Sunday School!  But here it is:

On 14 October 1735, Wesley and his brother Charles sailed for Savannah in the Province of Georgia in the American colonies at the request of Governor James Oglethorpe. Oglethorpe wanted Wesley to be the minister of the newly formed Savannah parish.
It was on the voyage to the colonies that Wesley first came into contact with Moravian settlers. Wesley was influenced by their deep faith and spirituality rooted in pietism. At one point in the voyage a storm came up and broke the mast off the ship. While the English panicked, the Moravians calmly sang hymns and prayed. This experience led Wesley to believe that the Moravians possessed an inner strength which he lacked.[8] The deeply personal religion that the Moravian pietists practiced heavily influenced Wesley's theology of Methodism.[9]
Wesley saw Oglethorpe's offer as an opportunity to spread Christianity to the Native Americans in the colony. Wesley's mission, however, was unsuccessful, and he and his brother Charles were constantly beset by troubles in the colonies.
On top of his struggles with teaching, Wesley found disaster in his relations with Sophia Hopkey, a woman who had journeyed across the Atlantic on the same ship as Wesley. Wesley and Hopkey became romantically involved, but Wesley abruptly broke off the relationship on the advice of a Moravian minister in whom he confided. Hopkey contended that Wesley had promised to marry her and therefore had gone back on his word in breaking off the relationship. Wesley's problems came to a head when he refused Hopkey communion. She and her new husband, William Williamson, filed suit against Wesley. Wesley stood trial and faced the accusations made by Hopkey. The proceedings ended in a mistrial, but Wesley's reputation had already been tarnished too greatly, and he made it known that he intended to return to England. Williamson again tried to raise charges against Wesley to prevent him from leaving the colony, but he managed to escape back to England. He was left exhausted by the whole experience. His mission to Georgia contributed to a life-long struggle with self-doubt. [More]
It wasn't as tawdry as I first thought, but it was news to this pew-sitter.

Meanwhile, the Pope hasn't put the fires out yet.  This could drag on for some time, I'm afraid.

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