Dr. Jamie Jenkins: Wesley's Aldersgate Experience

Wesley's Aldersgate experience was a turning point

On this day, May 24 ...


1819: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom

1891: William F. Albright, American archaeologist and biblical scholar

1941: Bob Dylan, American singer and song writer

1944: Patti LaBelle, American singer

1945: Priscilla Presley, American actress


1959: John Foster Dulles, American politician

1974: Duke Ellington, American composer and musician

2008: Dick Martin, American comedian


1626: Peter Minuit bought Manhattan

1689: The English Parliament passed the Act of Toleration, protecting Protestants.

1830: "Mary Had A Little Lamb" by Sarah Josepha Hale was published.

1830: The first revenue trains in the U.S. began service.

1844: Samuel F. B Morse sent the message, "What hath God wrought," by telegraph.

1883: The Brooklyn Bridge was opened to traffic after 14 years of construction.

1915: World War I began when Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary.

1935: The first night game in Major League Baseball was played in Cincinnati, Ohio.

1943: Josef Mengele became chief medical officer of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

1961: Freedom Riders were arrested in Jackson, MS for "disturbing the peace."

1976: The Concorde made its first flight between Washington, D.C. and London.

1991: Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia.

1994: Four men convicted of bombing the World Trade Center in 1993 were sentenced.

2001: Temba Tsheria, 15 year-old sherpa, became the youngest person to climb to the top of Mt. Everest.

2004: North Korea banned mobile phones.

And on this date in 1738 John Wesley, the Father of Methodism, experienced his "heart strangely warmed." According to his journal, Wesley found that his enthusiastic gospel message had been rejected by his Anglican brothers. Heavy-hearted, he went to a meeting on Aldersgate Street "very unwillingly." It was there, while someone was reading from Martin Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, that he felt that his heart was "strangely warmed." He described it as follows:

"I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."

Kristin L. Sachen, Assistant General Secretary, UMCOR, of the General Board of Global Ministries, said the following about Wesley's Aldersgate experience:

"Wesley's Aldersgate experience is identified as a turning point in his spiritual growth, a time in which the faith he preached so boldly became real for and in him.

"He was trying to describe in his journal something that goes beyond words. He was trying to describe what he felt like when he finally "got it." Wesley (finally) understood that God's love made known in Jesus Christ wasn't withheld from him. He understood that love was not something to be understood only in the mind, but felt in the heart or soul. And for some reason, led by the Spirit beyond Wesley's control, that soul-knowing arose in his consciousness.

"So much in the world today contributes to a cynical heart, an unbelieving heart, a hurting heart. But the same grace that opened Wesley's mind and heart to God's personal and saving love is still in our world today. Where and when we next encounter that grace is a matter of the spirit, but certainly we can be attentive and expectant. God's love, after all, is meant for you and me as well."

Jamie Jenkins

[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," May 24, 2010. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]