Why did John Wesley leave the halls of academia at Oxford to become a Church of England missionary in the newly established colony of Georgia? Was his ministry in America a success or failure? These questions--which have engaged numerous biographers of Wesley--have often been approached from the vantage point of later developments in Methodism. Geordan Hammond presents the first book-length study of Wesley's experience in America, providing an innovative contribution to debates about the significance of a formative period of Wesley's life.
John Wesley in America addresses Wesley's Georgia mission in fresh perspective by interpreting it in its immediate context. In order to re-evaluate this period of Wesley's life, Hammond carefully considers Wesley's writings and those of his contemporaries. A laboratory for implementing his views of primitive Christianity, the mission served to restore the doctrine, discipline, and practice of the early church in the pristine Georgia wilderness. Understanding the centrality of primitive Christianity to Wesley's thinking and pastoral methods is essential to comprehending his experience in America. Wesley's conception of primitive Christianity was rooted in his embrace of patristic scholarship at Oxford. The most direct influence, however, was the High Church ecclesiology of the Usager Nonjurors who inspired him with their commitment to the restoration of the primitive church.
Geordan Hammond is Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre and Lecturer in Church History and Wesley Studies at Nazarene Theological College (Manchester, UK). He is co-editor of Wesley and Methodist Studies, is a Fellow of The University of Manchester and Australasian Centre for Wesleyan Research, and is a Member of the Royal Historical Society. Currently he serves on the committees of the Charles Wesley Society and Ecclesiastical History Society. His teaching and research is in church history and historical theology with a particular focus on Methodism and the Church of England in the eighteenth century.
"A very balanced and well-written volume. The physical craftsmanship of the work is also to be noted. Oxford University Press has created their volumes in such an aesthetically pleasing way as to give the reader not only a joy in reading. but also makes it a joy to behold on a shelf. If you're at all interested in John Wesley, this assessment of his time and ministry in Georgia is sure to be a valuable addition to your library." --On To Distant Pages
"With this wealth of material, Hammond achieves his primary purpose of interpreting the Georgia mission via Wesley's effort to restore primitive Christianity, while offering a more accurate portrait of Wesley through contextualization... Excellent read."--Natalya Cherry, Southern Methodist University
"Hammond incorporates the diaries, journals and letters of many of Wesley's colonial contemporaries, friend and foe, to offer new insights into the life of this important religious leader and his brief, but significant, stay in colonial America." --Anglican and Episcopal History
"Hammond's nuanced and carefully articulated reinterpretation of John Wesley's experiences in the new world, long understood as a period of setback and failure, illuminates a novel understanding, not only of this foundational period in Wesley's life, ministry and movement, but also upon the context of the early or 'primitive' embodiment of Christian faith and practice in North America. Faithfully recalling the ecumenical nature of Wesley's formation as minister and theologian, John Wesley in America
is a must have both for the Wesleyan practical theologian and pastor as well as any academicians who wish to more fully comprehend Wesley's life, theology, and unparalleled impact on the landscape of American religion." --Religious Studies Review