Today is Aldersgate Day in the Methodist Church.
Its beginnings came 275 years ago in 1738 when John Wesley had what he called his “conversion,” an event that would ultimately lead him to start the Methodist church.
While Wesley was a Christian, he reached a low point in his life. A series of events led him to question his faith.
In his journal, Wesley wrote that on May 24, 1738, he “went very unwillingly” to a meeting of the Moravians, a Protestant church that accepts the Bible as the only source of faith. This meeting included friends who were caring for him throughout this low period in his faith.
At the meeting, someone read a piece that Martin Luther had written about the biblical book Romans.
Wesley wrote, “About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ; Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
That meeting was in a room on Aldersgate Street in London.
Wesley continued to grow in his faith and work with religious leaders, including George Whitefield. While Whitefield inspired him, Wesley disagreed with some of his theology and went out on his own.
He became a circuit preacher, traveling thousands of miles a year, and organized followers in educational circles that held classes. While Wesley remained an Anglican, his followers became their own denomination on both sides of the Atlantic.
To read more of the journal entry, visit christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/john-wesley-journal/.
From the Christian History Institute, here are other May 24 events:
1859: Ave Maria, written by Charles Gounod, is performed in public for the first time.
1768: Joseph Hart, a pastor and hymnwriter, dies. Among his best known works was “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.”
1752: A 16-year-old Robert Robinson hears George Whitefield preach and is born again. Robinson would become a pastor and write the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
1575: The Ausberg Confession is presented by Stephen Gerlach to the Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremias II. The Confession is the basic statement of belief of the Lutheran churches. It was presented to see if there were grounds for the Lutherans and the Orthodox Church to form a union.
1430: Joan of Arc, who had visions from saints telling her to lead a French resistance in the 100 Years War, is captured and eventually surrendered to the English, who convicted her on May 30 the following year and burned her at the stake.
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