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Old time religion

May 01, 2022

John Wesley came to Georgia in 1736 with one over-arching goal in mind. He wanted to establish a religious community like the early church. He wanted some “Old Time Religion.” He thought the ideal place for this experiment in Old Time Religion would be the frontier of Georgia. To that end, Wesley announced on his first Sunday in Savannah that while he was the pastor things would be done the “Old Fashioned Way!” This included the way babies were to be baptized – by Triune Dunking – the way communion was to be served – only to those who had made a prior confession – and the way marriages would be celebrated – after a three-week “Posting of the Bands.” He called it a return to Primitive Christianity.

He was excited at the possibilities of establishing Old Time Religion in the Georgia wilderness. His congregation was not at all thrilled by this idea. Resistance began from the beginning and John Wesley’s 23 months in Georgia was filled with sorrow, pain, and disappointment. He learned a lot while in Georgia and, looking back some years later, could see that all was not darkness and discouragement.

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

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