Through the Front Doors: Methodist Women's Journey Toward Ordination

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Susanna Wesley

Susanna Wesley

The first woman to exert her influence on the Methodist movement was Susanna Wesley, wife of Samuel Wesley and mother of John and Charles. During the winter months of 1710-11, when Samuel was away for long periods of time attending the Convocation of Clergy in London, Susanna Wesley began holding prayer services on Sunday evenings for all members of the household. Gradually, the neighbors joined these services until the numbers grew to around forty people. These meetings quickly expanded into religious services, drawing not only neighbors but also many from the nearby town. Eventually, the numbers increased to three hundred people. John, who was around nine years old at the time, had an outstanding example of the kind of leadership women might exert in the church. His correspondence with Mary Fletcher illustrates his support of women in leadership in the early Methodist movement.

A large portion of this text was taken with permission from the book Courageous Past, Bold Future: The Journey toward Full Clergy Rights for Women in The United Methodist Church by Patricia Thompson, published in 2006 by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.

The narration for the audio portion of the exhibit was read by Elizabeth Luton Cook of Candler School of Theology, Emory University.

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Exhibit Items
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Portraits of Susanna Wesley

Portraits of Susanna Wesley

Portraits of Susanna Wesley
Portraits of Susanna Wesley
These portraits of Susanna Wesley include a color postcard portrait, a locket portrait and a pen drawing of Susanna. They are part of the Wesleyana Collection in Pitts� Archives.
RG 020-3 Archives

Prayers of Susanna Wesley Prayers of Susanna Wesley (New York: Philosophical Library, 1956)
A collection of prayers and meditations written by Susanna Wesley.
BV245 .W3 1956

Biographical Sketches of the Lives and Public Ministry of Various Holy Women (London: Kershaw, 1825)
This collection of biographies was compiled by Zachariah Taft in 1825 to record the ministry of women in the early days of Methodism, lest they "drop into oblivion." Included are the biographies of Susanna Wesley, Mary Fletcher and Sarah Lawrance. The book is opened to John Wesley�s response to Mary Fletcher's letter about women preachers. He says she has "an extraordinary call" and is to continue preaching.
1825 TAFT Special Collections

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