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John Wesley's Attitudes Towards Women

If it weren't for John Wesley's mother, Susanna Wesley (pictured at right), Wesley and his influence on the place of women in the church might have been dramatically different. She was a strong, intelligent, spiritually mature woman, who was married to a rector of Epworth in Lincolnshire (Women and Wesley's Times 1). The family lived in a parsonage, and a formative experience for the child was being plucked out of the second story of the house when the home burned, leading his mother to say that he was a "brand plucked from the burning" (Women and Wesley's Times 1). Susanna was active in her husband's ministry. She ran prayer meetings herself, not the usual thing for women of the time. It is the purpose of this paper to discuss Wesley's attitudes towards women and the influence it had on the place of women in the church.

John Wesley was born in 1703, one of two sons who both came to be active in the church. He studied at Christ Church, Oxford, and in 1725, he was ordained, becoming a Fellow of the Lincoln College and a member of the Holy Club (Lane 155). He worked for a time as a missionary but was unsuccessful. He developed a style of preaching in the open air, riding on horseback as many as 5,000 miles a year, talking to people who gathered to listen to him. He rode as many as 18 hours a day and developed a technique of reading while in the saddle in order to make good use of his time. Sometimes he met with a hostile opposition, including stoning, but he ministered in this way, up until the age of 87, shortly before his death (Lane 156). During his lifetime he rode about 250,000 miles on horseback, gave 40,000 sermons, and left behind about 132,000 followers (Tomkins 1).

Wesley is unique among Protestant ministers because of his attitude toward women and the influence that this characteristic had in the church. His beliefs and values were undoubtedly molded by his mother, as he was close to her and conferred wit...

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John Wesley's Attitudes Towards Women. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:59, June 15, 2019, from