Finding John Wesley in London
A statue of the great religious reformer, John Wesley, beckons to （※1） us by the front gate at Aoyama Gakuin University. Our institution was begun in 1874 by American Methodist missionaries, part of a worldwide Christian movement numbering today more than 75 million people.
In Britain where Wesley founded Methodism, there are 120 historic sites, listed on the website, "Methodist Heritage." In London, these include St. Paul's Cathedral where he sometimes preached （※2） and the huge Methodist Central Hall built in 1912. That hall stands near Westminster Abbey and the Parliament buildings （※3）.
The most important of these sites consists of John Wesley's chapel, sometimes known as "the mother church," and beside it, his old home. (Photo 1)
City Road lay outside London in Wesley's time. Now it is a bustling （※4） route through the eastern part of this great city. Red double-decker buses （※5） rumble （※6） past a statue of Wesley in front of the large brick chapel, and his home, a narrow five-storey townhouse. Free guided tours are given daily of both.
Wesley had insisted that the chapel, built in 1778, be "neat but not fine," so it was built economically and to hold as many people as possible. The pillars （※7） supporting the gallery of the church were made from several old navy ships' masts donated by King George Ⅲ. In the same practical spirit, each church pew （※8） has an extra seat that slides out from it. Wesley often travelled to other parts of England. The extra seats accommodated the crowds that came on the days when he would preach here.
Despite its simplicity, the chapel has elegance. Today, it's considered one of the finer Georgian （※9） buildings in London. Inside, a volunteer guide, Ruth Sadie, from Scotland, points out the church's huge white ceiling. Decorated by beautiful geometric designs, it has a large chandelier hanging from it. (Photo 2)
"Methodism is part of my heritage," says Sadie. "Several relatives were buried in the churchyard behind the chapel."
Like many Britons, her family has been associated with the Methodist church for generations.
"My grandfather --five times-- that's my great, great, great, great, great grandfather, knew John Wesley. In fact, his portrait hung in the family business in the Strand for many years."
Today, a painting like that, of John Wesley, hangs in Britain's National Portrait Gallery in London's Trafalgar Square. Featured there are the portraits of the men and women who have shaped the country's history and culture.
Since Wesley's time, the chapel on City Road has been refurbished by （※10） donations from Methodists all over the world. Beautiful Victorian-era stained glass windows decorate the church now. An electric organ plays at the Sunday service. And the communion rail （※11） behind the pulpit （※12） was a gift from a very prominent Methodist, the late British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Wesley's townhouse is a specially protected heritage property and the small rooms inside have been furnished as in his day. It is estimated that during his lifetime, Wesley gave 40,000 sermons （※13） and travelled more than 250,000 miles. Sometimes in a single day, he might preach at two or even three different places.
Among his things on display is a small wooden box about the size of a desktop printer today. Sitting on the edge of it are two glass ink wells and his quill pen （※14）.
"This is his travelling writing desk," explains Carole Merriman, a longtime guide. "He said that travelling was a waste of time. When he travelled, he always worked."
Wesley often rented horses from local inns. The animals knew the nearby roads so he could let their reins （※15） go slack （※16） and hold up a book. According to Merriman, not only did Wesley read on horseback, he also used his writing desk.
"He perfected this way of riding- he sat backwards on the horse with his face toward the horse's rear. And there's no record of him ever wandering off （※17） the track."
Also displayed are Wesley's black preacher's gown, his black shoes, and a three-cornered black hat, all of them, surprisingly small. (Photo 3)
"He was a very tiny man," says Merriman. "Just five foot and one inch tall."
Despite his size, Wesley often showed great physical courage. Early in his work, people misunderstood his religious ideas and sometimes turned violently against him. Several times in his life, he faced angry mobs. He always managed to reason with them.
"By grace we are saved through faith," wrote Wesley and he encouraged his followers to become better Christians. They were to help the poor, and the sick, and to visit people in prison. Methodists became leaders in education, prison reform, and early trade unions. By the end of his life, he had become one of the best known and loved figures of the age.
Although there are five floors in Wesley's house, he only kept a bedroom and a study for himself. The resident preacher at the chapel, his wife, and children, and any visiting Methodist preachers all squeezed into this narrow building. Because it often got very noisy, Wesley used a tiny closet-sized room to say his morning prayers.
In his study is the quill pen that he used for his last letter. He wrote to a young British politician, William Wilberforce, who had just begun his 20-year battle to abolish England's slave trade. Wesley warned Wilberforce of the difficult struggle ahead, but added, "if God be for you, who can be against you?"
On March 2, 1791, at 87, he died in his bedroom. His last words were "The best of all is that God is with us." John Wesley's chapel and his house document a remarkable life that one day inspired his followers to bring his spiritual message to Japan. Fittingly, his statue in front of the chapel and his house is inscribed （※18） with his words: "The world is my parish（※19）."
1. beckon to ～を招く
2. preach 説教する
3. Parliament buildings 国会議事堂
4. bustling 騒がしい
5. double-decker buses 2 階（建て）バス
6. rumble （車が）音を立てて通る
7. pillars 支柱
8. church pew 教会の座席
9. Georgian ジョージ王朝時代の
10. be refurbished by ～によって改装された
11. communion rail 教会の内陣手すり
12. pulpit 説教壇
13. sermons 説教
14. quill pen 羽ペン
15. rein 手綱
16. go slack ゆるむ
17. wandering off ～からそれる
18. inscribe （ 板、石などに文字を）刻み込む、彫る
19. parish 教区