The Epworth Old Rectory is the childhood home of John and Charles Wesley. It was not, of course, the home John was born in since that one burned in the famous 1706 fire. It was in that fire that John was caught in upstairs and saved by a human ladder. He would later say he was a brand plucked from the burning. This likely fed his identity for the rest of his life, believing that God had saved him for a purpose.
Whether or not this gave him an overblown sense of self-importance, I will leave for other to debate. Most people who believe themselves saved by God seem to talk about it like it’s because God likes them better. I remember listening to some Christian radio station in which a caller rang in to talk about how her church had prayed to be spared from the tornados that ran roughshod through Tennessee (this caller was from upstate South Carolina). She was all bubbly saying, ‘The tornados came near us, but there was not even any property damage! Isn’t God good?’ I wanted to call in and ask her, ‘What do you think the people in Tennessee think? They’ve just had their whole towns destroyed!’ Just a complete lack of sense regarding the suffering of others – God saved me, and that’s all that matters.
I can hardly fault John Wesley. He believed God wanted him to do something for God.
Back to the rectory. It is own by the World Methodist Council and is kept as a musuem. Unfortunately for the confirmation class, the tour itself wasn’t terribly exciting. It didn’t get much better a year later when April and I went with Jen and Mike. There was no sense of excitement that the steward at the church had. Also, when I went with the confirmation class, they were expecting a singing youth choir from the US, and made it clear to us that we needed to hurry our tour so they could make sure they were prepared for the choir.
The house does contain some great Wesley artefacts, like Charles Wesley music writing stand. And it is amazing to stand in the kitchen where Susanna Wesley, against her husbands wishes, led bible studies for the parish. She should get a lot more credit for the Methodist movement than she does! So, despite the flaws, the Rectory is still well worth a visit.