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John Wesley and the Germans

October 05, 2020

Certain Germans had a powerful influence upon John Wesley’s spiritual development. He was able to communicate with Germans because he learned to speak the German language, probably while he was a student at Christ Church College at Oxford University. John Wesley could communicate in eight languages: English, French, German, Spanish (which he learned in America), Italian (Latin), Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. He wrote grammars in five languages. One Sunday in Georgia he read Morning Prayers in English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian for the various language groups who lived in Savannah.

John Wesley’s first known relationship with German Christians came during his first trip to the New World in 1735 aboard the ship “The Simmons.” This relationship continued in America for almost two years, then was renewed when he returned to London. In all of these relationships John Wesley was impressed, influenced, and challenged.

Future articles in this series will show how important these relationships were in the spiritual development of the founder of the Methodist Church.

The Rev. Dave Hanson is a retired pastor and John Wesley scholar.

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