The 250th Anniversary of John Wesley's 'Conversion' (24th May 1738)


John Wesley was born on 17th June 1703, the 11th of 19 children of Susanna and Samuel Wesley. Rector of the remote village of Epworth in Lincolnshire. Whilst at Oxford with his brother Charles and other friends they became known as the “Holy Club” and their methodical ways led to them called Methodists.

Samuel wanted John to follow him as rector at Epworth but John had no desire to do so. On 14th October 1735 John and his brother Charles sailed to America.

Also on board the ship was a group of Moravians, a religious sect from Germany, who were to greatly impress John. When he returned to England on the 1st February 1738 he knew that he lacked the faith that had so impressed him in the Moravians.

Peter Boehler, a Moravian preacher, told him, “Preach faith until you have it, and then, because you have it you will preach faith.”

In the morning of 24th May 1738 John read these words in the Bible, ‘Thou art not far from the Kingdom of God.’ In the afternoon he went to St.Paul’s Cathedral and in the evening he went reluctantly to a society in Aldergate Street, London.

During the meeting John experienced his ‘conversion’. He said, ‘About a Quarter before nine……I felt my Heart strangely warmed.’ This was the crucial landmark in his life and the growth of Methodism.

The portrait of John Wesley by Robert Hunter used in the design of this cover can be seen at Wesley’s Chapel, City Road, London.

John and Charles Wesley