The Life of John Wesley Part 2: A Life Lived
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
The second in a series considering the life of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church.
Preparation and materials
You will need a leader and six readers. If possible, position the readers at various points around the room.
Optional: to set the scene, you could place a large Bible and a wooden cross on a table at the front of the room for the children to observe as the assembly progresses.
You may wish to familiarize yourself with the previous assembly in this series, ‘The Life of John Wesley Part 1: A Narrow Escape’, available at: http://www.assemblies.org.uk/pri/2982/the-life-of-john-wesley-part-1-a-narrow-escape
Leader: In the first assembly in this series, we heard how John Wesley’s mother, Susanna, was devoted to all of her children, but a dramatic event in their lives convinced Susanna that her son, John, was to be no ordinary man. Today, we’re going to hear some more about the life of John Wesley and his remarkable mother.
Reader 1: Over 300 years ago, when John Wesley was a child, most children had very little education, especially girls. However, John and his brothers and sisters were fortunate because their mother, Susanna Wesley, was a wise and well-educated woman who took responsibility for the education of her own children.
Reader 2: When the children were little, she would sit them round the nursery fireplace. The tiles around the fireplace were decorated with pictures of characters from the Bible and Susanna would tell her children the different Bible stories. When the children reached the age of five, they began lessons at home, the girls as well as the boys. There were six hours of lessons a day and Susanna set aside some time each week for a special talk with each one of her children in turn.
Reader 3: Susanna insisted on good behaviour and good manners. She would encourage John and his brothers and sisters to own up to things that they had done wrong, and to make amends. She did not believe in severe punishment. This was a very different approach to the one taken by many parents living at this time. Children were often subjected to severe punishment - even beatings - if they did not obey their parents. Susanna’s approach was not like that at all.
Reader 4: When John Wesley was a young man, he went to Oxford University. He became a well-known Christian preacher and teacher. With his brother, Charles, he travelled all around England, to Europe and even to America. He would get up at four o’clock in the morning and travel on horseback from one town to another. Sometimes, he would preach up to four times a day! He seemed to have boundless energy.
Reader 5: John Wesley was also a great campaigner against poverty and injustice. Inspired by his mother, he worked tirelessly to improve education. However, he is most famous for founding a new group of Christians. At first, his followers were called Wesleyans, but they soon became known as Methodists because of John’s organized and methodical approach to running the group.
Reader 6: When John Wesley died in 1791, he had travelled more than 4,500 miles every year and had preached more than 40,000 sermons!
Time for reflection
Leader: John Wesley became a great leader, but I wonder if he would have done the same things in his life if he had not been given a good education by his mother.
We are very fortunate to receive free, good education. Many children in the world are not so fortunate.
Let’s make the most of every opportunity to learn and grow.
Let’s look to the future with excitement about the things that we could achieve!
We thank you for all of our teachers and leaders.
Thank you for their work and inspiration.
Please help us to work hard.
Help us to use our talents and abilities and always to take the opportunities that come our way.
‘I am planting my feet’ (Come and Praise, 103)
- Find out more about John Wesley and the Methodist Church.
- Visit Wesley’s Chapel in London. More information is available at: www.wesleyschapel.org.uk
- Find out about the history of the Methodist Church. More information is available at: www.methodist.org.uk
- Organize a visit to a Methodist church or invite a minister or member of the church to visit your school.