Junior church member Ella Carter, aged 12, writes about the life of Susanna Wesley ...
Susanna was born in 1669. She was the 25th child, of Dr Samuel Annesley and Mary White, meaning that she had 24 siblings! She attended her father’s church until she was 13, then she joined the official Church of England. At the age of 19 she married Samuel Wesley and they had 19 children with 11 surviving beyond infancy.
Mother of Methodism ...
Despite Susanna not writing any books on Methodism, or ever preaching a sermon, she has been called ‘the Mother of Methodism’. Why? Because it was two of her sons who founded Methodism - John and Charles Wesley.
Susanna is rather inspirational because she educated all her children and led a different life, for that period of time. For example, her girls were educated as well as the boys. She taught all of her children the Lord’s Prayer, as soon as they could talk. Her life wasn’t without hardship, she survived two fires at her house - one where John nearly died - and her husband was sent to prison twice. But Susanna continued to look after her children and she always prioritised her faith.
It is believed that it was Susanna who mostly influenced John and Charles Wesley. She led a methodical and devout life, was highly disciplined, organised and charitable, all of which were to become the hallmarks of ‘Methodism’.
Relationship with God ...
Susanna took her relationship with God as seriously as she did her duties as a wife and mother. Early in her life, she vowed that she would never spend more time having fun or in leisure, than she would in prayer and study. Daily, Susanna scheduled two hours for fellowship with God. This was challenging in a house overflowing with children.
She would sit every day on her special chair, with a blanket over her head, praying and reading her Bible. The blanket over her head acted like a tent and was a sign to her children not to disturb her!
Susanna, while highly esteemed, is not without controversy. Some of her parenting techniques could certainly be questioned today. She ran a very tight schedule, times were assigned for sleep, education, meals and bedtime. The children were given nothing that they cried for and had to speak ‘handsomely’. She would smack the children if they disobeyed her, although she did allow the children to confess their sins and if they promised to make amendments they would not be punished.
Susanna Wesley is still admired today, and thought of as inspirational! This year marks the 350th Anniversary of Susanna’s birth. So we’re celebrating her life!
In November last year five of our young people joined over a thousand others from all over Britain for the Methodist church young weekend at Pontins holiday camp in Southport. The theme this year was Be Courageous.
We took part in discussions/ workshops, drumming worship and bible study, rode bikes and climbed walls outside, laughed at the comedian and enjoyed the different types of worship. We voted for the Youth President and created the Manifesto for 2019, which will be available soon on the
Methodist Church website.
Ellie, one of our young people, made this comment about the weekend, “I really enjoyed 3Gen. It was a chance to make new friends and experience new things. I took a lot away from the workshops we did there. About how the world is changing and what some people have done to change rules in our world and how they have changed how we do things. Also about how different people may feel in different ways. Like how people may pray in different ways and give thanks to God. I enjoyed sharing a chalet with my amazing friend Sam, especially when we were going to bed in the evenings because we had so many laughs and jokes. I think if I could take one thing away from 3Gen, it would be, always move forwards, don’t go back because one small thing could make a huge change in the world we live in today”.
A great weekend!
As I write, the teenagers from our church are sharing in “Life Together – An Experiment in Christian Community Living”.
During a normal school week, church becomes our home as we explore what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ in the context of normal life. We share meals, find time to do our homework and attend our normal weekly activities. Each day begins and ends with prayers. We begin the day committing it to God and asking for God’s guidance and at the end of the day reflect on the day that has past.
Our Life Together is based on the experience and writings of the theologian and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who led an illegal seminary in Finkelwalde (now Stettin), Poland before the outbreak of the second world war. Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together was based on his experiences. The students of this first Life Together community were amongst those who led the Confessing Church so called because they confessed Jesus as Lord (and not Hitler). Bonhoeffer wrote that community was not a “given”, it’s a gift of God and something that has to be celebrated and which needs to be nurtured. Christian community is not one of isolation but of engagement. “It is only by fully living in the world that [people] find faith”. The intention of our Life Together is to model community which celebrates God’s gifts whilst living in midst of the world.
The churches in our town are joining with others to seek to make Frodsham a loneliness aware community in which we seek to make connections across our community, not just because those who are lonely need us, but because we need them.
Let’s continue to build up our common life and in so doing reflect and share the love of God in Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace.
Andrew M. Emison
Blog posts written by the Minister and Members of Frodsham Methodist Church.