[Today’s post is by John H. Parker, co-author of the book, Abide With Me, published by New Leaf Press. This account is from the travels of John and his co-author/photographer, Paul Seawright.]

John and Charles Wesley were two of eighteen children born to their parents, so I suppose finding a way to make yourself stand out was even more of a challenge than with most of us with siblings. Still, they didn’t have much trouble. John’s indomitable will and apparent leadership skills caused him to excel inevitably, especially after he and Charles came to Oxford. The Wesley rooms in Lincoln College breathe his presence.

John also influenced Charles to go on the not-so-successful journey to America for mission work. They didn’t stay long and returned to England. Charles kept on following his brother, though, which led him to settle with John in Bristol and buy a house there for the family. This was not far from New Room, which John built for his school, for worship, and for a meeting place for Methodist ministers.
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One of the most intriguing features of the large meeting room is the pulpit, or more accurately the pulpits. There are two, one behind and higher than the other. This arrangement allowed both brothers to do what they did best. John preached from the higher one (naturally), but Charles had his opportunity to sing from the lower. Many of the great hymns that he composed (hymns like “A Charge to Keep I Have,” Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” “Hark,! The Herald Angels Sing”) were first led from this pulpit. It’s rare that you can find an exact spot where history was made, but that approximately six feet of space is one of the great places in hymnody.