• History

    Hamline University's Wesleyan Heritage: Do All the Good You Can

    While using the name Wesley has become frequent around Hamline University, not everyone is aware of the fitness of the name for exploring vocation or community outreach.  Who was this man, John Wesley?

    Wesley's life spanned the eighteenth century (1703-1791).  When he was in college, he participated in a small group that studied the Bible together and also visited the prisons.  As his movement for renewal in the church gained momentum, he was not always allowed to preach in the village churches, so he began addressing growing crowds in the marketplaces and fields.  His message energized many, especially poor laborers who began to read to better participate in the small groups of his movement.  He wrote a book about medicine, funded a clinic, and spoke out against slavery and all those who profited from it.  Even when he was eighty, he continued his works of mercy, begging one day a week for money to give to the poor.  Wesley was also a man of contradictions; he supported the king and opposed the American Revolution even though he recognized the deep desire of the Americans for freedom.  Many credit his well-read mother and early training for his openness to women actively participating in his movement.

    While these biographical notes begin to illuminate the man who said, "Do all the good you can," they are not enough to capture his passion for these causes.  To study this Wesley is to become open to belief in the possibility of persons becoming on fire with a love for God.  This love translates into daily acts of mercy that in turn challenge the status quo.  These values have remained as part of its identity during its century and a half of existence.  Making the world a better place has been a byword for graduates as well staff and faculty.

    Today's graduates still expect to be measured the way that they approach life as educated persons who care about the world.  Wesley would recognize the spirit of inquiry, the service to others, and the energy for life in those who frequent the center that bears his name.

    - Rev. Linda Gesling, Ph.D.
    Excerpt from TEVP Vol. 2, No.1, 2005