The Birth of Methodism

John Wesley was born June 28, 1703 Charles Wesley, his brother was born in 1707 in Epworth of Lincolnshire England where their father was the preacher.

John was the 15th child of 18,  He was an Anglican Priest until the day he died but found that the church was dry and lifeless with very little religious passion. John and Charles started the “Holy Club”, which was essentially a small bible study and accountability group. They were known as the "METHODISTS", a term which was meant to be an insult directed at their orderly life of prayer, worship, and service to the poor.

John, in a period of religious turmoil, not finding the depth of religion he wanted in the Holy Club went on a journey to find himself. He became a missionary to the Indians and Colonists living in the new colony of Georgia. His ministry in Georgia lasted only a year and a half, whereupon he returned home dejected.

On May 24th 1738 John was to enter into a worship experience with the Moravian church that would change his life forever. He wrote;
     ‘In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate
     Street, where one was reading Martin Luther’s preface to the Epistle
     to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he
     was describing the change which God works in the heart through
     faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed, I felt I did trust in
     Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me
     that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the
     law of sin and death.’

Following this experience John began meeting with small groups called
‘societies’ additions to the Anglican church he never meant to separate
from. He was also preaching in the Anglican church pulpits but not for long,
they couldn’t handle his new found fervor and excitement and booted
him out of pulpit after pulpit. 

A friend of the Wesley’s George Whitefield, who was a member of the
‘Holy Club’ introduced John to ‘Open Air Preaching’, (preaching outside)
which completely appalled both John and Charles. That was considered
an incredible breech of decency, but John wanted to see it for himself. 
He wrote;           
      ‘I could scarce reconcile myself to this strange way of preaching
       in the fields…having been all my life so tenacious of every point
       relating to decency and order, that I should have believed the
       saving of souls almost a sin, if it had not been done in a church…
       at four in the afternoon I made myself more vile and proclaimed
       in the highways the glad tidings of salvation…speaking from a little
       eminence in the ground (a building stone) adjoining the city,
       to about three thousand people.’(miners, rough and rugged men) 

This marked the beginning of the Methodist revival. He stayed and preached
there for two months.

John began riding throughout the countryside preaching and teaching the gospel,
and setting up the small groups called ‘Band Groups’ along the way that they might 
continue in the gospels while he was apart from them. Methodism grew swiftly in 
England and abroad.  The Wesley’s had no intention of starting a new church but a
movement of revival within the Anglican church, but because of it’s drastic
difference from the Anglican church there was resistance. 

Following the American revolution the Anglican priests were recalled and there
was no one to administer the sacraments and they cried out to John for help, he
reluctantly conceded to ordain Methodist clergymen to take the place of the
recalled Anglican priests, thus setting in motion the separation with his beloved
Anglican church.

Within thirty years of John’s death Methodism had established itself on four
continents outside of Europe. But at home it had suffered many divisions and
thus separation was complete and irrevocable.  
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