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A few nights ago, I misunderstood a joke by Dzerzhinsky about Methodist and overreacted. We've exchanged apologies through PM's and he was a true gentleman throughout the process. He was curious about the history of the Methodist Church and I told him I'd post a thread with the info. So here you go:

The Methodist Church was founded by the Wesley brothers, John and Charles. While more empahsis has been placed on John, they had equall parts starting the church. John was the preacher, and Charles was the song writer. They were the sons of an Anglican(The Church of England) rector.

Born in England June 17, 1703, John was educated at Oxford University. Then ordained a deacon in 1725, and admitted to the priesthood of The Church of England in 1728. In 1735, he came to Georgia as an Anglican missionary. On the ship to Savannah he met some German Moravians, whose simple evangelical piety greatly impressed him. He continued to associate with them while in Georgia and translated some of their hymns into English. Except for this association, Wesley's American experience was a failure.

On his return to England in 1738, he again sought out the Moravians; while attending one of their meetings in Aldersgate St., London, on May 24, 1738, he experienced a religious awakening that profoundly convinced him that salvation was possible for every person through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

In March 1739, George Whitefield, who had met with great success as an evangelist in Bristol, urged Wesley to join him in his endeavors. Despite his initial opposition to preaching outside the church, Wesley preached an open-air sermon on April 2, and the enthusiastic reaction of his audience convinced him that open-air preaching was the most effective way to reach the masses. Few pulpits would be open to him in any case, for the Anglican church frowned on revivalism.

Wesley attracted immense crowds virtually from the outset of his evangelical career. His success also was due, in part, to the fact that contemporary England was ready for a revivalist movement; the Anglican church was seemingly unable to offer the kind of personal faith that people craved. Thus Wesley's emphasis on inner religion and his assurance that each person was accepted as a child of God had a tremendous popular appeal.

On May 1, 1739, Wesley and a group of his followers, meeting in a shop on West St., London, formed the first Methodist society. Two similar organizations were established in Bristol the same month. Late in 1739 the London society began to meet in a building called the Foundry, which served as the headquarters of Methodism for many years.

With the growth of the Methodist movement, the need for tighter organization became acute. In 1742 the societies were divided into classes, with a leader for each class. These class meetings contributed greatly to the success of the movement, but equally important were their leaders, many of whom Wesley designated lay preachers. Wesley called the first conference of Methodist leaders in 1744, and conferences were held annually thereafter.

Wesley parted with the Moravians in 1740 because of doctrinal disagreements, and he rejected the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, thus breaking with Whitefield. He also discarded many tenets of the Church of England, including the doctrine of the apostolic succession (the maintenance of an unbroken line of succession of bishops of the Christian church beginning with St. Peter), but he never voiced any intention of establishing the movement as a new church. His actions made separation inevitable, however.

In 1784 he issued the deed of declaration, which provided rules and regulations for the guidance of the Methodist societies. The same year he appointed his aide Thomas Coke, an Anglican clergyman, a superintendent of the Methodist organization in the U.S., empowering him to administer the sacraments; other ordinations followed. Ordination represented the biggest step in the direction of a break with the Anglican church. Separation did not take place, however, until after Wesley's death.

Wesley was deeply concerned with the intellectual, economic, and physical well-being of the masses. He was also a prolific writer on a wide variety of historical and religious subjects. His books were sold cheaply, so that even the poor could afford to buy them; thus he did much to improve the reading habits of the general public. He aided debtors and those trying to establish businesses and founded medical dispensaries. He opposed slavery and was interested in social reform movements of all kinds.

Wesley compiled 23 collections of hymns, edited a monthly magazine, translated Greek, Latin, and Hebrew works, and edited, under the title The Christian's Pattern, the noted medieval devotional work De Imitatione Christi, generally ascribed to the German ecclesiastic Thomas ? Kempis. His personal Journal (1735-90) is outstanding for the frank exposition of his spiritual development.

In the latter years of his life the hostility of the Anglican church to Methodism had virtually disappeared, and Wesley was greatly admired. He died March 2, 1791, and was buried in the graveyard of City Road Chapel, London. In Westminster Abbey is a memorial plaque inscribed with his name.

Soon after John Wesley's death in 1791, his followers began to divide into separate church bodies. During the 19th century many such separate Methodist denominations were formed in Britain and the United States, each maintaining its own version of the Wesleyan tradition. In 1881 an Ecumenical Methodist Conference was held to coordinate Methodist groups throughout the world. Conferences have been held at regular intervals since then. They are currently known as the World Methodist Conference, which meets every five years. The centennial gathering was convened in Honolulu in July 1981.

Early in the 20th century in Britain, the separate Methodist bodies began to coalesce. The Bible Christians, the Methodist New Connexion, and the United Methodist Free Churches united in 1907 to form the United Methodist Church, which in 1932 joined with the Primitive Methodist and Wesleyan Methodist churches to bring the long chapter of Methodist disunity in Britain to an end. Today the Methodist Church in the United Kingdom has the distinction of being the ?mother church? of world Methodism.

Each of these separate Methodist bodies formed denominational agencies to manage education, missions, evangelism, and publishing. Through their individual missionary programs, competing Methodist missions appeared around the world. It became apparent that some cooperation was essential, and each Methodist denomination joined one or more international missionary organizations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of these was the Ecumenical Methodist Conference, which first met in 1881.

The movement for unity did not succeed as completely in the U.S. as it did in Britain, where one Methodist church resulted. After much effort, three of the major Methodist bodies in the U.S., namely, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, united in 1939 to form the Methodist Church.

In 1946 two small denominations of German ethnic origin that were unaffiliated with Methodism but greatly influenced by it, the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, united to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968 this church joined with the Methodist Church to become the United Methodist Church, bringing more than half of world Methodism into one denomination.

Methodist churches in other countries generally stem from either the British or the American Methodist traditions. Some national Methodist churches have become independent of their parent churches, which increases the importance of their cooperation through the World Methodist Council. The ecumenical movement, in which Methodists have been leading participants, has resulted in the unification of some Methodist groups with other denominations, making their long-term relationship with world Methodism problematic.

I could go on and on as Mr. Wesley had many accomplishments. This is the shortened version, I Thank You for the chance to refresh my memory. It's been awhile since I've read this.

Sources:

http://www.umc.org

Microsoft? Encarta? Encyclopedia 2002. ? 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
 

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Thanks for the info, Preacher. Very interesting stuff. I But my basic question remains: What's the method?

The Catholic Church is calls itself Catholic because it considers itself universal - i.e. catholic with a small "c". Protestants obviously protest against the corruption that had pervaded the Catholic Church at the time Luther wrote his theses.

But where did Methodism get its name? From reading the history, I did note a reference to method - Wesley's discovery of the effectiveness of open-air revivalism. Wondering if perhaps this is the method by which Methodism got its name.

Anyway, interesting stuff. Thanks!
 

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Maybe this will help

Methodism, worldwide Protestant movement dating from 1729, when a group of students at the University of Oxford, England, began to assemble for worship, study, and Christian service. Their fellow students named them the Holy Club and ?methodists,? a derisive allusion to the methodical manner in which they performed the various practices that their sense of Christian duty and church ritual required.

Microsoft? Encarta? Encyclopedia 2002. ? 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

John Wesley started this group.
 

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Ah, so it came from others, not from themselves, and original intent was derisive.

Reminds me a bit of "Quakers", originally a derisive reference to how members of the Friends would quake with religious ecstacy during services.
 
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