ENGLAND & My Pre-arrival Hacks for Travelers to London & the United Kingdom

by Bob Whitesel DMin PhD, 7/5/19.

Before you arrive in England (and if you haven’t traveled here before or in a while) here are a few hints.

Contact your mobile phone company and see if it makes financial sense to get an international phone plan. I have one that costs $10 a day but it allows me to use the minutes I typically use in America.

If you have an unlocked cell phone you can inexpensively buy a replacement Sim card in England once you arrive. However in that case you will have an English number and it will cost you extra to call any phone registered in the US.

Don’t forget to purchase and print out any hard copies of tickets you need while you’re here.

Be sure to keep your passport safe and out of sight. The same goes for your wallet. London is like any big city, it has its share of pickpockets.

Don’t worry about exchanging US dollars for English £ until you arrive. There are change shops at the airport, but you probably will get a better exchange rate at one of the local Post Office stores.

If you’re planning on taking the subway, known as the “tubes,” then you’ll have to carry your suitcase up and down stairs in most locations. There are some public transportation locations that are handicapped accessible and you can check a map for those if you need that. But traveling light is always better when using public transportation.

The English cabbies are not only colorful, but they also know a great deal about the area. They can give you fantastic insights on where you’re traveling. But, they are not as cheap as using Uber of Lyft. So depending upon whether you want to save some money or learn more about the sites you’ll be passing, will depend upon which you pick.

Download a few helpful applications. I utilize Google maps because they let me create an accurate route based upon public transportation. Also a good exchange application that lets you figure out how much something costs can be helpful. Uber has drivers almost everywhere, so that’s another good application to download.

Finally, I want to strongly urge everyone to be extra, extra cautious while walking in England. Remember the English drive on the left-hand side of the road. This means before you cross any roadway you must “look right then left.” I always tell friends that at every street – look both ways before crossing any curb. Remember always look both ways.

Those are just some initial hints.

From Wesley’s England,

Dr. Bob and Rebecca

ENGLAND & After 20 Years: My Tips For Fun, Inexpensive & Family Experiences That Locals Know

Tips for London travelers (and free things to do and see) by Bob and Rebecca Whitesel, 7/11/17.

TRAVELING AROUND LONDON

During my research trips to England, I’ve discovered a few tips that can make life easier. Mostly about London but also including Cambridge/Oxford/Peak District/etc., I hope these insights help you more fully experience the wonders of England.

Get an Oyster Card (you can order it before you go) which allows you contact-less payment on the subways and buses. It depends on how much you travel but Rebecca and I are very active and thus usually go through about 40 pounds a week. Each person (except for the very youngest) must have an Oyster Card (you cannot swipe in another person.)

The tubes (subways) are fast but can be crowded. Avoid the tubes during rush hours especially if you have luggage. Remember, rush hour on London public transportation (private cars are not advised) such as the London tube (subway) is M-F 7:30-9:30 am and 4:30 – 6:30 pm.

During the day, I travel by bus. If you’re staying in Islington, a number 4 will get you to St. Paul’s Cathedral and a number 19 will get you to Green Park and Regent Street.

Go up to the top of the bus and wait until the front seats are available. Then sit in the front which is like having a tour bus ride through English streets.

Once you get on the bus hang on. It seems as if most bus drivers are retired Formula One drivers. Hang on every single second you are in a bus.

When approaching your stop, ring the bell. Then, to keep from being thrown around as you approach your bus stop, look for a stoplight where the bus might stop so you can go down to the exit (while the bus is not moving).

WEATHER & CLIMATE

If you’re going in the summer it stays light till about 10 o’clock. So, you can stay out later. But the sun rises at 4:30 am, so close the blinds if you want to sleep past 5 am.

England is an island, so there will be short showers (some longer) and temps in the 60s and 70s. So bring a light raincoat with a hood. But, it can also get hot (81 degrees in 2017 in Oxford).

There usually aren’t any mosquitoes, so people will sleep with their windows open. And, because of the island climate there is rarely a need for air conditioning. But, if you need it please respect their culture and just bear a little heat (it will be short lived and rare).

DINING OUT & CREDIT-CARDS

When you eat at restaurants, they will not bring you the bill until you request it. They usually don’t mind people staying around a while in the restaurant. So don’t expect the waiter to bring the bill until you requested.

Apple Pay is taken in most places and seems to be me more secure than using a chip or a magnetic swipe card. Most restaurants will not take swipe cards, so make sure your credit and debit cards have a chip if you want to use them. Also make sure you have a pin number associated with a credit card, because many restaurants want a “chip and pin “rather than a “chip and signature,” the latter is more common in the states.

CULTURAL RESPECT

Remember, Americans are perceived as loud and boisterous. The English speak in more muted tones (unless there’s a football [i.e. soccer] game going on). Please keep your voice down and respect their culture.

FREE THINGS TO DO

As noted above, ride upstairs in the front of a double-decker bus for a tour-bus like view of London. (You also might want to pray for bicyclists in front of the bus, which the bus drivers follow much too closely :-O

Go to the Horse Guards stable/museum in the morning and watch the horse guards from just a few feet away. They will go through their changing of the guard right in front of you. This is different than the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace (where you will probably be over 100 yards away and several rows deep). At the aforementioned Horse Guards stable/museum you will be just a few feet from the majestic horses and the young 20-something soldiers riding them. It’s a great experience for kids and it’s free every day.

The museums are mostly free and one of my favorites, of course, is the British Museum. Be sure to see the Rosetta Stone and explain it’s significance. Also see the winged bull statues from the Ancient Near East and the Elgin Marbles. When you are ready for something to eat go back to the front of the museum and walk through the gift shop. In the back of the gift shop is a pizzeria which also sells sandwiches and is usually never busy.

Victoria and Albert Museum has a great amount of historical artifacts. And it is right behind Holy Trinity Brompton church if you want to go to church there on Sunday mornings. It is at this church that the Alpha Program began and Nicky Gumbel is the pastor. If you go to the Victoria and Albert Museum after church (which as I mentioned is right behind the church) you can have lunch in the very ornate cafeteria. Just cross through the outdoor courtyard and you’ll find a large café on the north side of the courtyard.

It is always great fun to take a “river boat bus” and visit Greenwich where the Maritime Museum is housed (another free museum). The most enjoyable way to Greenwich the is to catch a river bus from Tower Bridge or even further upstream at the Shakespeare’s Old Globe Theatre. Walk around Greenwich and then walk up the hill to overlook London and Greenwich. You can even stand on the Greenwich Mean Time.

Visit Shakespeare’s Old Globe Theatre and catch a Shakespearean play for only 5 pounds. Yes that’s right, if you want to sit it may cost you 40-50 pounds. But if you’re willing to stand in front of the stage and have the best view in the house, you can do so as a “groundling.” This is a tradition that dates back to 1599. Peasants were welcome to come watch the plays but had to stand, so aristocrats could sit in the seats. It’s still only 5 pounds to stand and even these sell out. People bring their raincoats (with a hood) in case it starts to rain (and no one ever leaves when it starts raining – this is England after all). As a groundling you can’t sit down (some kids might get antsy) but adults would love it. If you don’t get tickets, but still want to go, arrive early at the Globe Theatre and lineup at the box office door. People who can’t use their tickets will sell them to you. Bring cash because you are purchasing tickets from individuals, but this is sponsored by the theatre and you can find good seats. Try and get there about an hour before the show because there are usually 15-20 people in line for returned tickets.

A beautiful view and inexpensive dining is available on the six floor of the Tate Modern museum (free again). You can’t miss the museum because it’s right across the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul’s. It was formerly a power station and is noticeable because it still has a giant smokestack. But now it’s a gallery for the modern art run by the British government. On the six floor you can get snacks while overlooking the Thames and there is a dining room with good, yet reasonably priced food (and amazing views).

A great option for lunch nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral is the 101 café at the Salvation Army building. Just use your Google map to find the Salvation Army international headquarters. You can go for a nice lunch and also support the Salvation Army. It’s never too crowded, though there is usually a few people that know about this hidden gem in the city.

Go to “evensong” at St. Paul’s Cathedral for a wonderful experience (just like John Wesley did on the night his heart was changed). Rather than having to pay for tickets to tour Saint Paul’s you can go to evensong at 5 PMmost nights. Go up to the front desk and ask them about entrance to evensong and ask to be seated in the “choir.” If you’re lucky they will put you in the choir section, where you will sit where kings and queens sit.

GETTING AROUND (and back home):

If you are staying in Islington and riding a tube to Heathrow it will take (if it is not rush-hour) a minimum of 2 hours and 15 minutes to get through security and then to terminal three at Delta.

When returning to the US, utilize the mobile passport app and usually you will be allowed to go through an expedited US Customs line:https://www.mobilepassport.us

BEFORE YOU GO TO ENGLAND

Contact your mobile phone company and see if it makes financial sense to get an international phone plan. I have one that costs $10 a day but it allows me to use the minutes I typically use in America.

If you have an unlocked cell phone you can inexpensively buy a replacement Sim card in England once you arrive. However in that case you will have an English number and it will cost you extra to call any phone registered in the US.

Don’t forget to purchase and print out any hard copies of train tickets you may need while you’re here.

Be sure to keep your passport safe and out of sight. The same goes for your wallet. London is like any big city, it has its share of pickpockets.

Don’t worry about exchanging US dollars for English £ until you arrive. There are change shops at the airport, but you probably will get a better exchange rate at one of the local Post Office stores.

If you’re planning on taking the subway, known as the “tube,” then you’ll usually have to carry your suitcase up and down stairs in most locations. There are some elevator locations that are handicapped accessible and you can check a map for them. But traveling light is always better when using public transportation.

The English cabbies are not only colorful, but they also know a great deal about the area. They can give you fantastic insights on where you’re traveling. But, they are not as cheap as using Uber. So depending upon whether you want to save some money or learn more about the sites you’ll be passing, will depend upon which you pick.

DOWNLOAD A FEW HELPFUL APPLICATIONS

I utilize Google maps because they let me create an accurate route based upon public transportation. Also a good exchange application that lets you figure out how much something costs can be helpful. Uber has drivers almost everywhere, so that’s another good application to download.

Finally, I want to strongly urge everyone to be extra, extra cautious while walking in England. Remember the English drive on the left-hand side of the road (please don’t call it the “wrong-side of the road). This means before you cross any roadway you must “look right, then left.” I always tell students that at every street – “look both ways before crossing any curb.” Remember always look both ways.

OUTSIDE LONDON

Oxford:

BUS:

The OxfordTube http://www.oxfordtube.com/ (a bus, sometimes called a coach) leaves from nearby London’s Victoria Tube Station every 15-20 minutes. You can buy your tickets online and it might be a good idea to do so before you leave, since you may have to print them out. They “will send a PDF to you in an email. Please print the PDF as your proof of purchase and exchange it for a ticket with your driver.” Also remember, that rush hour on the London Tube (subway) is M-F 7:30-9:30 amand 4:30 – 6:30 am. The Oxford Tube and the X90 both leave London’s Victoria Station every 12-20 minutes, making stops at Marble Arch, Baker Street, Notting Hill Gate, and Shepherd’s Bush before heading to Oxford. Tickets cost £17 if you’re returning the next day, or £20 if you’re returning within 3 months. Travel time is approximately 100 minutes during off-peak times. The Oxford Tube: 01865 772250. X90: 01865 785400

From Oxford colleague Peter Forsaith: “The X90 is a parallel/competing service to the Oxford Tube. Same prices etc.. They run slightly different routes out of central London; the Oxford Tube via Notting Hill Gate/Shepherds Bush, the X90 via (near) Baker Street. Little advantage in paying in advance really… Students going to Christ Church should get off in St. Aldates (make sure to tell the driver), which is directly outside. For Lincoln College get off in High Street (Queen’s Lane), walk up High St to opposite The Mitre, then up Turl St. (5 minutes).”

TRAIN:

Trains from London leave Paddington every half hour, costing around £20 for a single trip, and takes approximately one hour. For national rail inquiries, call 08457 48 49 50 or visit their website. Note: cheap tickets can be purchased in advance for as little as £10 return. Check the website of contact National Rail for details. From Peter Forsaith, “Trains, there is now a regular train service from London Marylebone station (200 yds from Baker St.) as well as Paddington. Similar frequency. The return tickets can be used for either. This may be easier depending on where your students are located in London. Journey times both about 1 hour (incidentally, advise them not to catch a stopping train ie stops all stations) to Oxford from Paddington, these take for ever!)”

(Prof. B’s NOTE: It is a long walk from the train station to the center of Oxford. If you travel by train, plan on hailing a taxi to and from the train station. However, if you travel by bus they can deliver you to the center of Oxford.)

THINGS TO DO IN OXFORD

Tour Christ Church, St. Aldate’s Street, Oxford, Oxford OX1 1DP. http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/visiting/timesandprices.

“Christ Church is both Oxford University’s largest College and the Cathedral Church for the Anglican Diocese of Oxford. Visitors are welcomed throughout the year to enjoy Christ Church’s beauty and fascinating history. However, please note that Christ Church is a working academic and religious institution and some areas, including the Hall and the Cathedral, may close, occasionally without notice… The visitor entrance is through the large gate in Christ Church’s Meadow Building.” http://www.methodistheritage.org.uk/christchurchcollege.htm. Here you will a ee the seminary [Christ
Church College] where John and Charles attended. Also look for his painting in the dining room [a very famous dining room, often used in movies to represent Oxford].

Lunch Option A: Cafe of St. Mary Church, University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, High Street, Oxford OX1 4BJ,http://www.university-church.ox.ac.uk/contact.html.

Lunch Option B: The Eagle & Child, 49 St. Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LU, 01865 302925,http://www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/theeagleandchildoxford/findus/This is where the Inklings (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others) gathered on Tuesdays to read and comment on each other’s writings.

Enjoy the ambiance of Oxford. Perhaps you will climb to the top of St. Mary’s Church’s spire for a bird’s eye view of the “city of spires” (be forewarned, small stairs and cramped).

Cambridge:

Punt (boat) the Cam. The Cam is the river that runs through town he whose bridge over the Cam gives Cambridge its name. Planting the Cam will allow you to have the best views of the oldest colleges. You will also see the Bridge of Sighs which was informally named because it resembles a similarly named bridge in Italy (though it really is quite different). Nonetheless it is a landmark and only visible from a punting boat. You can even rent a boat yourself and try punting. However don’t do this in lieu of having a guide take you up the Cam too. The guide will take you past most of the colleges. If you punt yourself you’ll probably go around in circles for the first part of your rental period, while trying to get the hang of it. And if you don’t fall in the water, you will create a humorous experience for your companions and passerbys.

Also Cambridge seems to me to be more compact than Oxford that Cambridge. It feels less spread out and more easily navigable.

Bristol:

THINGS TO DO IN BRISTOL

See The New Room, the first purposely built preaching hall with designs ideas by John Wesley (notice the big clock donated by John to keep preachers short). Stand in the pulpit where John and Charles preached. Your Charles home. And don’t miss the new museum (with activities for the kids too) that is the best, most entertaining Wesley museum I have ever seen.

The New Room, 36 The Horsefair, Bristol, UK. BS1 3JE http://www.methodistheritage.org.uk/thenewroom.htm
info Web: www.newroombristol.org.uk Facebook: The

New Room/John Wesley’s Chapel Twitter: @NewRoomBristol

TRAIN

“There is a regular train service from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads that takes 1 3⁄4 hours and then it’s a 20 minute walk to the New Room or there is a bus service or taxis are available. The cheaper alternative is coach and there is a National Express service from London Victoria to Bristol which takes 3 hours and then just a five minute walk from the coach station to the New Room. http://mailto:info, Telephone: +44 (0) 117 9264740. Dr. Whitesel’s notes: The National Express coach (long-range bus) service leaves Victoria Coach Station SW1W 9TP and you will want to book tickets to the Bristol Coach Station, Marlborough Street Bus Station, Bristol. BS1 3NU.

THE PEAK DISTRICT

This is the melt in this area between Scheffield in Manchester. Stay at a bed-and-breakfast in either Manchester or Scheffield and rent a car for daily excursions into the rolling peak district. You can also take buses from Scheffield to the center of the Peak District.

Go to Castleton in the middle of the peak district to begin your adventure. There is a park interpretive center there were you can get maps and information. Ask them about the hidden dale where scenes from “The Princess Bride” were filmed. There is a hiking trail through it just a quarter-mile from the interpretive center. But it has a Hidden entrance so be sure and ask how to get there and have them show you on a map. Then walk there from the interpretive center. If you’re driving by car there are parking spaces at the interpretive center.

If you’re driving by car leave town headed to the east towards Manchester and drive up one of the narrowest as most winding roads in the Peak District. When you get to the top drive a few more miles and you will find a parking lot and a trail head that leads to the Mam Tur. The Mam Tur is a high treeless peak with great views but also often howling winds. You can walk up there on an easy half mile hike: https://www.walkingenglishman.com/peakdistrict04.htm

When in the Peak District be sure and visit Chatsworth. This is one of England’s most magnificent manor homes and the scene of countless movies. Parking is free and you can visit the café without paying for the tour. You can also wander the grounds without paying for a tour, but in the tour is you see the inside of the house. This great home has been the backdrop for many movies and television shows. And, it’s a good way to understand how the aristocracy once lived.

There are many winding roads and hiking trails around the Peak District. Rebecca and I found that we can easily spend a week in the Peak District enjoying the many small towns and beautiful dales. Set aside enough time to explore and enjoy this English gem.

JOHN & CHARLES WESLEY SITES

Museum of Methodism and John Wesley’s House
49 City Road,
London EC1Y 1AU
Wesley Chapel, City Road, London.

Walk around Wesley Chapel and view Wesley’s grave behind the chapel. There are plenty of things to see in the area (Susanna’s grave across the street and a room with the benches from the Foundry). Also, a few blocks away is the “Charterhouse School” which John Wesley attended and often they have “Evensong” services led by the pensioners (much like in Wesley’s day). The chapel is beautiful.

WEBSITES: http://www.wesleyschapel.org.uk/house.htm, http:// www.wesleyschapel.org.uk/museum2.htm,

Go to Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral
and then walk down Aldersgate Street.
Arrive at the location of the Aldersgate Flame at the approximate time as Wesley arrived at this spot where his heart was strangely warmed. “At the approximate location of John Wesley’s conversion on 24 May 1738, a modern bronze sculpture erected in 1981 commemorates the event and features text from Wesley’s journal describing his conversion experience.” http://www.methodistheritage.org.uk/aldersgateflame.htm. On the way stop by the location of John Bray’s house (Little Britain Street) where John and Charles often attended the Moravian small group meetings.

(Check back before you go … these tips are “to be continued.” 🙂

WESLEY & Map of the London Site of the Foundry Preaching Hall #WesleyTour

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Those planning to travel with me to Wesley’s London in 2017 will have a chance to tour his home as well as the City Road Chapel. And, less than a block away is the site of the famous former cannonball Foundry turned preaching auditorium (see the map).  Travelers on this tour will actually get a chance to sit in the very seats on which people sat in the Foundry. Warning, though basic and uncomfortable they will give you a sense of the comfort people sacrificed to hear the Good News.

Foundry-Church-Map.jpgSee my colleague Al DeFilippo’s blog for more on The Foundry as well a map…
http://www.francisasburytriptych.com/john-wesleys-foundry-church/

EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM & Lessons Learned While Traveling in the Hoof Prints of Wesley

by Bob Whitesel PhD, The Great Commission Research Journal (La Mirada, Calif: Talbot Theological Seminary, Biola University) Vol. 5, No. 1, Summer 2013.

GCRJ Whitesel Wesley Hoof Prints COVERDownload the entire article here:  ARTICLE ©Whitesel Wesley Holistic Good News GCRV5-1-052.

abstract

The Good News can be understood as the message of the missio Dei to which varying methods can be attached. Churches, however, often specialize in a specific part or method of that mission, e.g., helping the needy, emphasizing conversion, or promoting discipleship. This article suggests the Good News has yielded significant historical impact when churches embrace a comprehensive or holistic understanding of the Good News that includes three methodological components: establishing legitimacy by meeting the needs of non-believers, effectively facilitating conversion, and spiritual formation in small communal groups. Missional and effective evangelism nomenclature will be discussed in relation to this holism. Finally, examples of simultaneous methodology will be drawn from the experiences of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, as well as from experiences of the author while studying Wesley‘s original letters and traveling the settings of John Wesley.

article

I recently visited in John Wesley’s haunts, from the high moors of Derbyshire, to the alleys of industrial Sheffield, to the cosmopolitan bustle of City Road in London.  Amid these journeys I sought to better understand Wesley’s writings (to which I was kindly provided access to the originals in various locales) and the development of his holism regarding evangelism. Though for months I had been studying the massive reams of his journals, letters and books, I found his comprehensive view of the Good News because clearer as I trekked into his world.

Wesley lived in a world that was surprisingly not too different from the one we live in today.  It was rampant with unethical new technologies that cheapened people, their self-esteem and their moral values. Compounding the problem, the Church of England had denigrated into parish fiefdoms where pastors amassed private fortunes, catered to society’s elite and harangued one another over private theological perspectives. Worship services had became uninspiring and lethargic.

This pattern was sometimes broken at regional-wide churches which adopted a performance-orientated tactic.  In these regional churches only the best musicians and preachers were invited.  Yet, still the masses were not attracted, for they had been driven to the cities by the promises of an Industrial Revolution where factories provided stability over agriculture. Here in the cities the masses struggled to recover a communal life they left behind.  And churches who practiced excellence or preached politics did not offer them the communion with God or one another they sought. Into this unexciting, stratified and irrelevant church Wesley had felt called to be a pastor … but to pastor differently.

John Wesley & Social Advancement

The term methodist was used in a derisive manner to slander Wesley and his student friends at Christ Church College in Oxford. They had gained a notoriety for attempting to live lives more purposeful and godly. They drafted for themselves rules to help them grow in their Christian spirituality and service:

  1. “To lead a “holy and sober life”
  2. “To take communion at least one a week”
  3. “To be faithful in private devotions”
  4. “To visit the prisons regularly”
  5. “and to spend three hours together every afternoon, studying the Bible and books of devotion.”

One of Wesley’s friends had suggested that the group go to Oxford’s most outcast inhabitants, those who were housed in the nearby Oxford prison. This had an amazing effect upon the Holy Club. Eventually Wesley and his friends would even ride with prisoners in the carts on their way to execution, consoling and comforting them.

From his years at prestigious Christ Church College forward, Wesley would view meeting the needs of society’s most estranged, be they believer or non-believer, as a fundamental element of the Good News.  Though fellow Oxford students would derogatorily call them “The Holy Club,” their methods of holding each other accountable, receiving the Sacraments and helping the needy only required one more element for their movement to become whole. And that was for these young men, who grew up in Christian homes, to experience an inner transformation.

John Wesley & Conversion 

As a fledgling pastor Wesley would not ignore the poor. After all, he had been involved in social advancement ministry since his days at Oxford. But still, he did not feel he had not experienced holistically God’s Good News. True assurance that he would be saved from damnation eluded him. The following recounts how I gained a better understanding of how Wesley’s holistic view of the Good News developed.

Wesley’s Conversion: From Savannah to Aldersgate   

John Wesley, perhaps like some of the readers of this article, always knew he was going to be a pastor. In preparation, he had attended the best pastoral-training school in the British Empire and was now in 1735 was sailing to the New World.  An impressive intellectual and well respected despite his Holy Club activities, Wesley had received a prestigious appointment to be the first pastor of the Church of England congregation in Savannah, Georgia.

On his voyage to Savannah a fierce storm threatened to sink the ship. Even hardened sailors were said to be in fear of eminent death.  John Wesley was no different and by his own admission cowered in the ship amid many of the people he would soon be expected to pastor in Savannah. Cowering in fear of his life, he felt himself a poor example of the eternal certainly that he must soon preach to the congregants who traveled in the ship with him.

But on the ship were a group of Christians that demonstrated a remarkably different reaction to almost certain death.  Known as “Moravians” they were Christian reformers from Germany who has emphasized quietude, mediation and prayer as a means to spiritual growth. In the midst of the tempest and impending death, Wesley and others were amazed at their calm and confident trust in God’s protection. Their resolve convicted Wesley that something in his life was missing: a lack of trust and assurance in God.

The ship weathered the storm, but a series of miscalculations in his first pastorate together with his spiritual uncertainty sent Wesley back to England with the thought that “I who went to American to convert others, was never myself converted to God?”

St. Paul’s and a Small Group Meeting on Aldersgate Street   

Back in London, Wesley frequented the meetings of the Moravians and similar like-minded Christians who met in small groups for quietude, prayer, meditation and accountability. Wesley also kept up his attendance at Church of England worship services since he never wanted to leave the Church of England. Wesley always believed that the Church of England was God’s instrument and he never advocated leaving it, nor did he want to. Many years later when “preaching services” of the Methodists sprouted up all over England, Wesley asked that they never meet at the same time as Church of England services. Wesley did not want the Methodists to become a rival denomination with rival meetings. Instead Wesley always believed the Methodist Societies should be a renewal movement within the Church of England.  If anyone was dedicated to turning around a church, even a denomination, it was Wesley.

One evening he attended Evensong at the mother church of the Church of England, St. Paul’s Cathedral. Only 27 years earlier this stately church facility had been completed from a design by the famed architect Christopher Wren.  St. Paul’s had been Wren’s architectural tour de force, and in Wesley’s day as today, it was a hub of tourist curiosity.

I too attended Evensong at St. Paul’s at the same approximate time of year to take in for myself what Wesley saw and heard.  Just days before I had been in the John Ryland’s Library at the University of Manchester, holding in my hands and studying Wesley’s letters about this and other experiences.  I had read what he said in hindsight, but now I wanted to experience the intangibles. Though times have changed in many ways, they have not changed in other ways. The Church of England is in much the same crisis of faith and irrelevance that concerned Wesley.  And though St. Paul’s Evensong on the night of my attendance was attractive, it was hollow.

The service began with a steward waving an incense censer as he lead the procession of priests and singers. Over the years ecclesiologists had reinterpreted these incense censers as symbolic of the soothing fragrance of the Holy Spirit’s presence. But in Wesley’s time, people knew the real purpose for incense censers. As a member of the aristocracy Wesley would have been particularly familiar with incense censers as standard fixtures in rooms where noblemen held counsel. Over centuries, this practice had slowly made it way into the church. On my trip I had toured the country homes of English noblemen and palaces of the their royalty, only to find in most large incense censers meant to protect the aristocracy from the putrid odors of the masses.  Large metal burners, stationed in these homes directly between the aristocracy and the commoner conveyed an sense of elitism and separation. And this practice in the church, regardless of a theological attempt to reinterpret their function, would have conveyed at least a subconscious impression of exclusivity to Wesley’s generation.

Yet most notable in St. Paul’s was the massively artistic ornamentation and presentation.  Here was everything the Church of England could muster in excellence and quality. Then as today only the best musicians, singers and pastors were invited to participate at St. Paul’s. Tonight was no different. The organ voluntary was magnificent, the surroundings heavenly with all the other-worldly flair that famed architect Wren could muster. The preaching was engaging and politically nuanced.

To Wesley this would have been the Church of England at its attractive best. Wesley had had been familiar with such attractional methods since his college days. Christ Church College had been the de facto college for the religious elite of the British Empire. Daily he ate dinner in its stately dining room, amid grandly set tables under imposing larger-than-life portraits of English statesmen and religious leaders.

At St. Paul’s this was reflected in a way that many churches tried to copy: an impressive atmosphere of religious excellence that would inspire the religious indifferent to exchange their old way of life for a journey into Christian maturity. But, the churches in the 1738 were largely empty, even amid a quest for attractive experiences that would lure the masses back to church.

As in Wesley’s time the majority of the attendees when I visited St. Paul’s where tourists. One small row was set aside for the “St. Paul’s Community” of which only a few seats were taken. The sensation was of grandeur, artistry and emptiness. And, this tactic was not wooing them in then, nor in my experience was it today. The large sanctuary, sized more for coronations and state funerals, produced only a hollow resonance. Thin echoes led to a feeling of beauty inexperienced. It was not too dissimilar to a mausoleum, where beauty seems wasted upon so few.

But when I left Evensong, I stepped out the front doors into one of the most bustling intersections of London.  Here Fleet Street, the venerable headquarters of the British press climbs Lundgate Hill toward London Wall Road. This is the ancient center of the City of London. In 1738 this was also the center of English business life where the work of business did not subside at 5 pm. And the broad and central steps of St. Paul’s’ provided a fitting place to gather. Add to this the tourists from across the empire that visited this center of the ecclesial smugness, and the dissimilarity between what was going on inside of St. Paul’s and with out could not be ignored. In Wesley’s time the streets would have been teaming with humanity in all of its liveliness and energy. And, it was again today.

I had always envisioned Wesley leaving Evensong after twilight in a pensive manner. I had envisioned him as making his way down the dark Aldersgate street adjacent to St. Paul’s to the small group of Moravians where his heart was “strangely warmed” and where Wesley’s assurance became solidified. Yet here as in Wesley’s day, the daylight would still have rule. But, there were at least two more hours before dusk. And the masses, since Wesley’s day, have used the broad and stately steps of St. Paul’s as central London’s main gathering place.

Today the steps and streets were no different.  What startled me was the drastic difference between the stately, yet lonely beauty of  Wren’s magnum opus and energy of the teaming streets outside.  It struck me, how St. Paul’s leaders so desperately wanted the masses to enter and experience God, but the masses seemed content to enjoy one another’s camaraderie on its steps.  No amount of excellence in design or execution seemed to meet the needs the masses wanted. They wanted community, they wanted fellowship and the church had created edifices staffed by curators.

Before long, Wesley was headed down the adjacent Aldersgate Street to a meeting of the introspective Moravians. How much different that small group must have been from his experience only hours earlier at St. Paul’s. To compare the two must have been revelatory for Wesley as it was for me. People needed what the church had to offer. But despite its best attempts to recreate the beauty of heavenly realms and attract the throngs, the church paled in comparison to the spiritual assurance that came from a small group on Aldersgate Street that encouraged one another in faith development.

John Wesley & Spiritual Development

Wesley had always been impressed with how the Moravians organized their meetings to allow time for quite reflection (sometimes called quietude), spiritual assessment and communal accountability. Here in the midst of Scripture, friends and reflection came to Wesley something all the stately grandeur of St. Paul’s could not amass. Wesley stated that he felt “my heart strangely warmed” and forever recounted this night as a night that changed the course of his life.

What came out of that night was a John Wesley who had a new self-assurance that God could help him surmount the foibles that had dogged him most of his life. The smaller community of accountability and reflection gave Wesley something he had benefitted from many years earlier in Oxford. Here was a group that knew him, that knew his struggles and who helped him overcome his questions of faith. And, they gave him time to reflect and then commune with the heavenly Father who sought to reestablish a relationship with John.

In both Oxford and London were elements that helped Wesley see how he was to participate in God’s mission. In the sacraments administered in the stately halls of St. Paul’s were the mysterious workings of God’s Holy Spirit in His church.  And in the company of fellow spiritual travelers were the accountability, support and divine communication he needed to embark on a journey to serve others.

A Holistic Method Emerges

Probably because Wesley’s conversion had been built upon many years of serving the needy, and then had been facilitated by the fellowship of a small cadre of friends, Wesley never seems to focus on one part of the Good News over the whole. Wesley had a passionate dedication to holism in his so-called method, that included social advancement, conversion and intentional spiritual maturity. Wesley would allow no one element to overshadow the others. They had been closely connected to one another in Wesley’s spiritual journey, and spent much of his life convincing others that they must be theologically and practically connected in the method that was emerging.

Wesley’s methods were so distinctively precise that over time the equally disparaging Methodist would replace the deriding term “The Holy Club.” Wesley never liked either, especially the term methodist, because he didn’t think that varying methods should eclipse a holistic mission. Though the mission was comprehensive it included varying methods that helped complete that mission. But any one or two methods, no matter how publicly criticized or glorified were incomplete without an understanding of the holism that Wesley experienced.

To read more, download the entire article by clicking on this link (courtesy of The Great Commission Research Journal): ARTICLE ©Whitesel Wesley Holistic Good News GCRV5-1-052

Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether #TheologicalResearchSeminar

SERMONS & Wesley’s Sermons: An Interview w/ the editor of the @AbingdonPress book

by , Scriptorium Daily, 10/8/13
… Though he (John Wesley) wrote and edited voluminously in a variety of genres, it’s the sermons that made history and deserve to be heard today. Wesley even specified a few dozen sermons that he considered to be standards, which makes our selection easier. In fact, back in the year 2000 I consulted with Wesley scholar Kenneth Collins of Asbury Theological Seminary and asked him what primary text he would assign to a captive audience of undergraduates. He said, as I expected, the 52 Standard Sermons, and he even recommended a representative sub-set within them.But we’ve had trouble getting the old 19th-century edition of the Standard Sermons into the hands of students, and have limped along, making do with internet versions (they’re in the public domain, after all). For years we’ve had these practical challenges when answering the question, “what primary source should one read to grasp the thought of John Wesley?”

So I’m delighted that Abingdon has just released a volume that solves our problems: The Sermons of John Wesley: A Collection for the Christian Journey.

At about 650 pages, this collection of 60 of Wesley’s sermons is pretty likely to serve this generation as the definitive anthology for reading Wesley firsthand. It is published by a Methodist press and edited by two respected Methodist scholars. One of those two editors is the aforementioned Ken Collins, and the other is Jason Vickers, Associate Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies and United Theological Seminary.

Vickers is author, most recently, of Minding the Good Ground: A Theology for Church Renewal (Baylor UP, 2011) and is one of the leaders in the program known as Canonical Theism. As for his credentials to edit the sermons of Wesley, he is author of Wesley: A Guide for the Perplexed , and co-editor of the Cambridge Companion to John Wesley.

I asked Vickers a few questions about this new collection of Wesley sermons. Here are his responses…

Read the interview at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scriptorium/2013/08/how-to-read-john-wesleys-sermons/

WESLEY TOUR & The Pennine Way at 50: where to eat and stay along the route #WesleyTour

Read more at … http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/apr/24/pennine-way-50-where-to-eat-drink-stay

WESLEY TOUR & The Magna Carta explained – See it this summer! (21 days to reg. ends)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “The Land & Leadership of Wesley Tour that I lead yearly stays across the lawn from the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral. While we are there, the Magna Carta will be housed inside for viewing. If you want to join us sign up before February 15, the last day to register for this summer’s June trip.”

Read more at … http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/11383687/The-Magna-Carta-explained.html

New 2015 LAND & LEADERSHIP OF WESLEY TOUR w/ recreations of his conversion, letters and sermons in the UK!

Earn seminary credit … or just come and enjoy an immersive experience in the land and principles that changed Wesley!      

INCLUDES   >   airfare   >   transportation    >   hotels    >   most meals      >   And accommodations in The Close overlooking historic Salisbury Cathedral!

CLICK to download   >>   LAND & LEADERSHIP of WESLEY TOUR 2015   <<

LAND & LEADERSHIP of WESLEY TOUR 2015 PIC p.1

LAND & LEADERSHIP of WESLEY TOUR 2015 PIC p.2

LAND & LEADERSHIP of WESLEY TOUR 2015 PIC p.3

LAND & LEADERSHIP of WESLEY TOUR 2015 PIC p.4

EVIL & Why John Wesley said the Devil Fears the Message of Salvation by Faith

“For this reason the adversary so rages whenever ‘salvation by faith’ is declared to the world: for this reason did he stir up earth and hell, to destroy those who first preached it. And for the same reason, knowing that faith alone could overturn the foundations of his kingdom, did he call forth all his forces, and employ all his arts of lies and calumny, to affright Martin Luther from reviving it.”

John Wesley, from his sermon “Salvation by Faith” which he preached shortly after his conversion to the students and faculty of Oxford University in St. Mary’s Church, Oxford. Read the entire sermon at http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-1-salvation-by-faith/

WESLEY & Why Salvation Must Be Preached First & Is the Foundation of Our Preaching

“So then, that ‘whosoever believeth on him shall be saved,’ is, and must be, the foundation of all our preaching; that is, must be preached first.”

John Wesley, from his sermon “Salvation by Faith” which he preached shortly after his conversion to the students and faculty of Oxford University in St. Mary’s Church, Oxford. Read the entire sermon at http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-1-salvation-by-faith/

Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether

WESLEY & You Won’t Find God Until You Realize You Can’t Save Yourself

“A quite contrary objection is made: ‘If a man cannot be saved by all that he can do, this will drive men to despair.’ True, to despair of being saved by their own works, their own merits, or righteousness. And so it ought; for none can trust in the merits of Christ, till he has utterly renounced his own.”

John Wesley, from his sermon “Salvation by Faith” which he preached shortly after his conversion to the students and faculty of Oxford University in St. Mary’s Church, Oxford. Read the entire sermon athttp://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-1-salvation-by-faith/

WESLEY & a Quote From His Sermon in Oxford on Being Born Again

“So that he who is thus justified, or saved by faith, is indeed born again. He is born again of the Spirit unto a new life, which ‘is hid with Christ in God’.”

John Wesley, from his sermon “Salvation by Faith” which he preached shortly after his conversion to the students and faculty of Oxford University in St. Mary’s Church, Oxford. Read the entire sermon at http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-1-salvation-by-faith/

WESLEY & Helping the Poor Opens the Door for the Good News #Quote

“These little labours of love will pave your way to things greater importance. Having shown that you have a regard for their bodies, you may proceed to inquire concerning their souls.”

John Wesley, The Sermons of John Wesley – Sermon 98, “On Visiting the Sick.”  http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-98-on-visiting-the-sick/

Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether

WESLEY & Why the Rich Don’t Visit the Poor #Quote

“Indeed, Sir,” said person of large substance, “I am a very compassionate man. But, to tell you the truth, I do not know anybody in the world that is in want.” How did this come to pass Why, he took good care to keep out of their way; and if he fell upon any of them unawares “he passed over on the other side.”

John Wesley, The Sermons of John Wesley – Sermon 98, “On Visiting the Sick.”  http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-98-on-visiting-the-sick/

WESLEY & Why the Rich Don’t Visit the Poor #Quote

“One great reason why the rich, in general, have so little sympathy for the poor, is, because they so seldom visit them.”

John Wesley, The Sermons of John Wesley – Sermon 98, “On Visiting the Sick.”  http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-98-on-visiting-the-sick/

Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether

WESLEY & 4 Reasons Why the Poor Mattered to Early Methodism

by Andrew Dragos, 7/20/14

“It is well known that early Methodism was especially concerned for the poor of society. The Methodist revival included field preaching to coalminers and the establishment of schools, employment opportunities, and special banks for the poor. Methodists felt compelled to reach out on a grande scale in ways unique to their movement. There are many reasons why Wesleyan spirituality was oriented toward the under-classes of society. The following are just 4 of those reasons.

1. Sin is the great equalizer—both the wealthy and the poor are affected….

2. A holistic view of the person empowers holistic ministry…John Wesley claimed that Christianity is “essentially a social religion, and . . . to turn it into a solitary religion indeed is to destroy it.” While this was primarily a reference to Wesley’s arrangement of Methodists into class meetings, it also points to the inherent relationality in his understanding of Christianity…. For Wesley this meant that all good works—works of piety as well as works of mercy—are “in some sense necessary to sanctification.” In at least five different places in “The Character of the Methodist” he equates love of neighbor and care for the poor with qualities of being a Methodist… He regularly advised affluent people to visit the poor in order to “improve life” and “use their health.”

3. Earthly riches are dangerous.

…Though not to be equated with inherent sin, Wesley echoed Jesus words in saying, “What a hindrance are riches to the very first fruit of faith, namely, the love of God!”…Thus one of the purposes of the Methodist societies was to proclaim, “All my riches are above! All my treasure is thy love.”

4. Caring for felt needs opens the door to caring for spiritual needs.

…John Wesley suggested that providing for the physical needs of the poor opens doors for spiritual ministry as well. In advising ministers on how to visit the poor, he suggested that the minister inquire of their physical needs which paves the way for things of ‘greater importance.

Read more at … http://seedbed.com/feed/4-reasons-poor-mattered-early-methodism/

How Wesley’s “Method” Focused a Church Inward AND Outward

by Bob Whitesel, excerpted from “Cure for the Common Church,” Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011

The cure for the ingrown church is to keep a church focused both inward and outward. In fact, history indicates that churches that stay connected to outsiders often do a better job at inward ministry too. For example, an Anglican pastor named John Wesley was so ashamed and alarmed at the depravity of the people outside of his church, that he took his sermons outside the church walls and began ministries to better serve their spiritual and physical needs.[i] Balancing this emphasis upon people inside and outside the church required a rigorous structure his critics mockingly called: “Wesley’s Methods.” Soon his followers were know as “Methodists,” a term which endures to today and should remind us that we need a clear method if we are going to avoid focusing only on people inside the church. After 20+ years of consulting, I believe this method here lies in three organic remedies. These cures, if taken together, can foster a healthy balance between inward and outward focus.

Rx 1 for the Common Church = Grow O.U.T. In this cure, as well as in all of the cures in this book, the remedies spell out the name of the cure.

CURxE O: Observe whom you are equipped to reach

CURxE U: Understand the needs of those you are equipped to reach.

CURxE T: Tackle needs by refocusing, creating or ending ministry programs.

For more details, DOWNLOAD the O.U.T. Chapter Here (and if you like it, please consider supporting the publisher and author by buying a full copy): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CURE Chpt 2 HOW OUT.

For more information on this and other cures for the common church, see “Cure for the Common Church”, Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011 and you can read more about the book at … http://bobwhitesel.com/c3/Cure_for_the_Common_Church.html

Footnotes:

[i] Wesley urged discipleship via small groups which he called “class meetings” to help non-churchgoers grasp the basics of Christianity. These “class meetings” were a type of discipleship group, which we shall discuss in greater detail in the next chapter of “Cure for the Common Church.”