Recent Magazine Articles

26 May 2015

Doing “more beyond”

by Priscilla Pope-Levison | Issue 114

It all began with a fall into a well. At the age of two-and-a-half, Jennie Fowler Willing (1834–1916) tumbled into a well on her family’s Illinois farm property, struck her head against the side, and sustained severe nerve damage. That injury spurred on chronic health problems that eventually affected her ability to attend school after age nine. For years, she yearned for an education. Finally, at age 28, she asked God to help her get an education so she might do more to serve God and the Methodist Church.

surrendering to jesus

Willing (she...

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26 May 2015

“My chains fell off”: Richard Allen and Francis Asbury

by Jennifer Woodruff Tait | Issue 114

Richard Allen (1760–1831) first saw the light of day as “Negro Richard,” a slave to Benjamin Chew, attorney general of Pennsylvania and owner of a thousand-acre farm. Early in childhood Richard and his whole family were sold to plantation owner Stokeley Sturgis. Sturgis was, Richard later wrote, “what the world called a good master.” He treated his slaves well and allowed them to attend Methodist preaching, but he also sold off part of Richard’s family when he got into debt.

At the age of 17, Richard was converted in classic Methodist...

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26 May 2015

The bishop and his mentor

by J. Steven O’Malley | Issue 114

Forty years have I known the retiring majesty of this man of God, towering majestic above his fellows in learning, wisdom and grace, yet seeking to be known only of God and the people of God.”

Thus Asbury wrote of the father of German-American revivalism, Philip Wilhelm Otterbein (1732–1813). He also testified, “There are few with whom I can find so much unity and freedom in conversation, as with Otterbein.” He requested in 1784 that Otterbein assist in consecrating him as superintendent of the newly formed Methodist Episcopal Church...

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26 May 2015

The “Church of the Horse”

by Lester Ruth | Issue 114

It wasn’t illicit sex that did Jeremiah Minter in, or financial misconduct, or any of the other sins that cause the downfall of leaders today. And it wasn’t over-the-top emotional intensity or extravagant piety, as early Methodists typically accepted and even encouraged these things. But in 1791 Jeremiah Minter crossed a line that even the Methodists could not accept.

What was the offense that cost Minter not only his position of leadership but also his Methodist membership? Minter had been voluntarily castrated in an attempt to obey the...

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26 May 2015

The unexpected leader

by John WIgger | Issue 114

Francis Asbury (1745–1816) grewup in a rough neighborhood. A traveler passing through his hometown of Great Barr, England, in 1741 noted a number of metalworking shops in which he saw “one or more females, stript of their upper garments [topless], and not overcharged with their lower, wielding the hammer with all the grace of the sex.” Taken aback, he asked if these women “with smutty faces, thundering at the anvil” shod horses, but was told that they were all “nailers” (i.e., they made nails).

Asbury would have seen all this (he probably...

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18 Feb 2015

Learning what no one meant to teach

by Michael Ward | Issue 113

I WAS AT FOUR SCHOOLS  and learnt nothing at three of them.”

Thus Lewis spoke of his education during the period 1908 to 1914, between the ages of 9 (when he ceased being homeschooled) and 15 (when he began to be privately tutored). Even if we allow for hyperbole, it was still a damning verdict on the education he received during some of his most formative years. Much has been written about Lewis’s time studying under his tutor, retired school headmaster William T. Kirkpatrick (the famed “Great Knock” of Surprised by Joy ). But Lewis had...

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