The Wesley Monument at the Fort Pulaski National Monument marks the site that John Wesley, the father of the Methodist Church, landed and delivered his first speech in the New World. It can be viewed along a sidewalk close to Fort Pulaski. Wesley was a well-known man of faith when he landed in Georgia in 1736. As a youth, Wesley’s parents, Rev. Samuel and Susannah Wesley, emphasized the need to learn about their religion and to stay faithful to it. At the time of John’s birth, Samuel was even a clergyman at the Anglican Church in Epworth, England.
Backstory and Context
In 1728, when he was 25, John Wesley was a student at Lincoln College in Oxford, England. John and his brother Charles would constantly try to remain true to their faith. After witnessing this, their peers teased them by calling them “Methodists.” This originally derogatory term is now the name of the Methodist Church. By 1735, John and Charles were established men of faith and wanted to spread the Gospel in Georgia, which was a colony at the time.
The brothers traveled the Atlantic with James Oglethorpe, who was responsible for establishing the colony of Georgia. They came to the Savannah River on February 5, 1736, and stepped on Cockspur Island the following morning. This was also the day that John Wesley gave an unprecedented sermon in America. Wesley and his fellow travelers then journeyed the river again to go to Savannah.
Before long, however, Wesley began to have disagreements with people in Savannah. The disagreements became so bad that he eventually had to stand in court. Eventually, after the situation did not improve, Wesley departed on December 22, 1737. Even though he departed from Georgia in the midst of trouble, Wesley was known to have said that something important occurred there to help establish the Methodist Church. This important event is when several people gathered at Wesley’s home. There is a memorial to Wesley in Reynolds Square in Savannah that is close to where the house was.