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Today in Georgia History
is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.

December 2

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John Wesley

December 2, 1737 - Savannah
John Wesley lost his labor of love when he came to Georgia.

The founder of the Methodist Church was born in England in 1703, becoming a strict man of God who spread the faith throughout England and America. Ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church in his mid-20s, Wesley and his brother Charles studied at Oxford. They led a group known for its methodical study and worship—hence the term Methodists.

The Wesleys became missionaries for the society of the propagation of the gospel, coming to Georgia in 1735 at General Oglethorpe’s request. Things did not go well. John Wesley’s strict discipline as rector of Christ Church in Savannah irritated his parishioners. More trouble followed when he fell in love with Sophia Hopkey, the niece of Georgia’s chief magistrate. When she married another man, Wesley banned her from Holy Communion, damaging her reputation in the community.

His successful romantic rival sued him; but Wesley refused to recognize the authority of the court, and the man who would eventually found a major Protestant denomination in America left Georgia in disgrace on December 2, 1737, Today in Georgia History.



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John Wesley was listed at number 50 on a recently-released BBC list of 100 Greatest Britons