Methodist History

The word prolific describes many aspects of the lives of brothers John and Charles Wesley, two of 19 siblings and fourth generation clergy of the Church of England and graduates of Oxford University. Born in 1703, by the time of his death in 1791, John Wesley had traveled over 250,000 miles (including America), delivered over 42,400 sermons, and published some 440 books, tracts and pamphlets.  Charles Wesley, five years younger than John, wrote some 6,500 hymns in his lifetime, some sixty-five of which are still in the United Methodist Hymnal.

John Wesley

Charles Wesley

In 1727, during his second year at Oxford, Charles Wesley organized a club which originally met on Sunday evenings to study the Bible in Hebrew and Greek.  The frequency and subjects of their meetings expanded to the point that they drew increasing attention of their fellow students.  Finally, one is said to have remarked, "Here is a new sect of Methodists sprung up."  And the name stuck.  John Wesley joined the group shortly thereafter.

In October of 1735, John and Charles sailed to the colony of Georgia.  They returned to England in 1737, unsuccessful in converting the native-american population and at odds with some of the parishioners due to their strictness.  They did, however, leave a Methodist Society behind in the colony.  In 1738 both Charles and John had religious experiences which led to their active evangelizing.  John's plain-spoken preaching and doctrinal differences led to his being rejected by the Anglican Church.  He took to preaching in streets and fields.  Many converts and ministers went to the colonies in the 1760's.  The Revolutionary War led to the departure of most clerics of the Church of England, leaving the Methodists behind.  John Wesley urged the church to ordain more ministers for the newly independent colonies so that they might receive the sacraments.  The church refused and in 1784, John Wesley began ordaining ministers and deacons on his own.

 Methodist Beliefs

Methodists tend to be non doctrinal, so their beliefs can be summed up easily.  The Apostle's Creed confirms our faith in:

  • God the Father
  • Jesus Christ, his only son
  • The Holy Spirit
  • The Church
  • Forgiveness of Sins
  • The Resurrection
  • Life Everlasting

Methodists hold to two sacraments as ordained by Christ: Baptism and Communion.

Baptism can be performed by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion.  Methodists recognize this sacrament when performed by an ordained minister or priest, even from other denominations.  It is usually unnecessary to be rebaptized when joining the United Methodist Church.

Communion is not limited to members of the United Methodist Church. It is offered to anyone who truly and earnestly repents of their sins, coexists in love and charity with their neighbors, and intends to lead a pure life following the commandments of God,

Source: The Methodist Primer


For more information, visit The United Methodist Church website

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