Subscribe to Sermons Podcast Epworth on Twitter Epworth on Facebook
Established 1999
A Wesleyan-Anglican Church in Boise, Idaho

Pilgrimages

An English Pilgrimage

Entry 1 | Entry 2 | Entry 3 | Entry 4 | Entry 5 | Entry 6 | Entries 7-9 | Entry 10 | Entry 11 | Entry 12 | Entry 13 | Entry 15 | Entry 16 | Entry 17 | Entry 19 | Entry 20 | Entry 21 | Entry 24 |

Entry 12, Saturday, Second Week of Advent:
Epworth, England: Well Supply Thy Sons and Daughters

As we approach the village of Epworth, we pass flat fields, many of which are awash in the results of this winter's excessive rainfall. One can see why Epworth was thought of as an isle, and why Charles I undertook to take over and drain the land-a decision which angered the inhabitants of Epworth, many of whom had depended upon that undrained land for their livelihood. Because of his loyalty to the king, that royal usurpation complicated life for Samuel Wesley when he arrived as the new rector of St. Andrew's Parish Church at Epworth.

We stop first at the Wesley Memorial Church, a Methodist Church initiated by that international connection in the belief that a Methodist place of worship should exist in the village which gave rise to Methodism. No one is present, but the church is unlocked, although dark. We see the Communion table, which was said to have been used by Samuel Wesley as rector at St. Andrew's (1696-1735), and by son John Wesley as well, for a time his father's curate.

We see the famous stained-glass window which shows John and Charles Wesley looking toward the Old Rectory at Epworth, which they always loved. John Wesley's last words are shown around their portraits: "The best of all is, God is with us."

We proceed to the Old Rectory, the house in which John, Charles and their siblings were raised. We are welcomed by Andrew and Pauline Milson, who manage the Old Rectory and are our hosts. As Andrew shows us to our lodging room, he reveals a measure of the immensity of the privilege that is ours: we are to be the very last overnight guests at the Old Rectory!

The Old Rectory, Epworth, England
The Old Rectory, Epworth, England
(photo by Colin J. Barton)

He explains that he is overseeing the conversion of the Old Rectory to museum status under British law, a status which precludes the Old Rectory's continuing to provide guest lodging.

Andrew then leads us on a thorough tour of the Old Rectory. His love for the place and his work quickly becomes apparent, as do his many years of experience as a police detective; his detective work continues, but re-directed to uncovering the history of all things related to the Old Rectory.

Example: he shows us, in the surface of a wall in the upstairs hallway, what could be Susanna Wesley's markings of the heights of children at various ages, one with the inscription "1711", which was after the house was re-built because of the 1709 fire which nearly claimed John Wesley's young life.

We see the Old Rectory library, and we appreciate the importance of this collection of works by and about the Wesleys. We see Samuel Wesley's study, from the window of which he could view his St. Andrew's Parish Church, on the other side of the village. In Samuel Wesley's day, the site of the church and that of the rectory were as close together as they could be, separated as they were by the Earl of Mowbray's land.

We see the attic space in which "Old Jeffrey" was reputed to reside as a somewhat helpful ghost. Sorry to say, though, we hear no rappings or groanings, no doors open unaccountably, and nothing levitates. Oh, well.

We see the rooms in which Samuel and Susanna Wesley nurtured their children. We see and appreciate the furnishings, some of which were the Wesleys' and others of which were of the period.

Then we enjoy dinner at Epworth's Red Lion Hotel where John Wesley stayed and ate many times. Tea and biscuits (cookies) are served us back at the Old Rectory, by Pauline.

Her hospitality is quite apparently characteristic of what the Old Rectory was when Samuel and Susanna Wesley resided there with their children. One evidence of the home's plan for hospitality is the very large dining-room sideboard which the Wesleys owned and which today (after being in the Red Lion Hotel in Epworth for 100 years and being purchased by a benefactor and returned to the Old Rectory) is in the reception room-in the Wesley family's time, what was the dining room.

The love which John and Charles Wesley always felt for the Old Rectory is evidence that their parents' hospitality was not given only to outsiders. Of course, the children were well aware of their parents' love for them, and many of those expressions of parental love survive in the historical record that has come down to us about the family. Example: Susanna Wesley educated not only her sons, but also her daughters. (Hetty, sister to John and Charles, could read New Testament Greek at age eight.)

There were parent-to-child optimism and trust, too-an optimism which today we attribute to John Wesley but which, in fact, came to him second-hand from his parents. Samuel Wesley's dearest wish was for a revival of real religion in England. As he was dying without seeing his dream come true, he said to his daughter Emily, "Do not be concerned at my death; God will then begin to manifest himself in my family."

That was no idle speculation; he knew what he and Susanna had instilled in their children.

"Glorious things of thee are spoken
Zion, city of our God!
He, whose word cannot be broken,
Form'd thee for his own abode;
On the rock of ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded
Thou may'st smile at all thy foes.

"See! the streams of living waters
Springing from eternal love;
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove;
Who can faint when such a river
Ever flows their thirst t'assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the giver,
Never fails from age to age."
- verses

- Christopher

Theme Verse

Luke 1:78-79

Scripture Lessons

Dec 17: Isaiah 65:17-25, Psalm 126, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, John 1:6-8, 19-28

Dec 10: Isaiah 40:1-11, Psalm 85:7-13, 2 Peter 3:8-18, Mark 1:1-8

Prayer Emphases

Nation: Tunisia

Denomination: Pentecostal Church of God

Congregation: Epiphany Fellowship, Camden, NJ, and the Rev. Doug Logan

Ministry: World Alliance of Reformed Churches

Parishioners: Those living on Lubkin Street

Scripture & Prayers Archive

Sermons Podcast