Room for all people
Explore John Wesley's thoughts on those who volunteer
The term ‘volunteering’ in the eighteenth century would have more likely have been referred to in terms of military service rather than community service. However the principle of giving your time freely and wholehearted very much had a place in John Wesley’s heart and his community ethos for the New Room.
John Wesley was fundamentally opposed to a life of idleness. In 1786 he even wrote a sermon called The Duty and Advantage of Early Rising in which he claimed that lying in bed was physically unhealthy. He practised what he preached by rising at 4am. He was a man first and foremost devoted to prayer and study and listed all of his daily activity in his journal. It was this devotion to God which led him to put his faith into action by caring for and promoting the welfare of others.
Not only did his methodical approach play out in the day-to-day running of the New Room, but it was this dedication which paved the way for the movement of Methodism to flourish. Time was devoted to setting up an organisational structure and systems to enable the movement to grow, such as small study groups and preaching plans
The giving of your time and the devotion of your work was an essential element of how community life played out within the preachers’ rooms above the chapel at the New Room. The visiting preachers who stayed here, or ‘the family’ as they were affectionately described began the day by attending a service in the chapel at 5am. As well as the time given to providing for the needs of life at the New Room, John devoted his attention to attending the sick, visiting prisoners, preaching in the open-air, and ministering to those within the membership.
The giving of your time, resources and support for the needs of others is still very much at the heart of Methodism. We can still see the same structure and similar principles of organisation which Wesley implemented operating throughout the Methodist Church today.
"Not just informative but engaging and thought-provoking" - Museum visitor
Highlights from the Collection
The Holy Club was the insulting nickname given to a group of Oxford University students who regularly met together to study the Bible and pray.
This preaching plan from 1828 highlights the different areas of Bristol where Methodist ministers were actively giving their time to preach in the early 19th century.
Membership gave you a sense of purpose and belonging within the Methodist community.
Highlights from the Shop
You can visit Methodist Heritage sites across the country. Take a look at the Methodist Heritage sites in your area to investigate how you can help by volunteering.
Volunteering is a great way to learn more about the history of Methodism and get up close to some of its fascinating artefacts. Local to Bristol? Why not check out John Wesley’s New Room volunteering opportunities page.
John and Charles Wesley had questions about the Christian faith during their time in Oxford. They wanted encouragement and a sense of community so set up a club in order to learn more for themselves. If you would like to find out more about the Christian faith, the Alpha Course is a great place to start. Click here to find a course near you:
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