Susanna Wesley (1669-1742) could be considered the mother of Methodism -- and not just because she was mother to John and Charles Wesley. An intelligent woman known for her organized and disciplined lifestyle, she educated her 10 children at home and devoted an hour each week to each child for private, focused conversation. Her husband, an Anglican pastor, was frequently away from home so she started holding prayer services one evening a week for the members of her household. Soon neighbors started coming, too, and then people from the nearby town – a couple hundred at a time -- to the detriment of services at the local church, whose pastor complained. It was this example of teaching and house groups that would later encourage her sons John and Charles to begin holding similar meetings. Although John Wesley never broke from the customs of his day and did not ordain women, he nevertheless provided many leadership opportunities for women in the burgeoning Methodist movement.
Want to know more?
Read Charles Wesley's epitaph for his mother.
Photo from "The Wesleys and Their Times", courtesy of the General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church.