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  1. Navigation menu
  2. The History of Methodism | Methodist Heritage
  3. What John Wesley teaches about church unity

The Methodists also extended their activities to workhouses and poor people, distributing food, clothes, medicine, and books and also running a school.

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When the Wesleys left the Holy Club in , the group disintegrated. James Oglethorpe, governor of the colony of Georgia in North America , to oversee the spiritual lives of the colonists and to missionize the Indians as an agent for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Accompanied by Charles, who was ordained for this mission, John was introduced to some Moravian emigrants who appeared to him to possess the spiritual peace for which he had been searching.

The mission to the Indians proved abortive, nor did Wesley succeed with most of his flock.

The History of Methodism | Methodist Heritage

He served them faithfully, but his stiff high churchmanship antagonized them. He had a naive attachment to Sophia Hopkey, niece of the chief magistrate of Savannah , who married another man, and Wesley unwisely courted criticism by repelling her from Holy Communion.

Revival and Revolution: From the Publisher

In December he fled from Georgia; misunderstandings and persecution stemming from the Sophia Hopkey episode forced him to go back to England. From this point onward, at the age of 35, Wesley viewed his mission in life as one of proclaiming the good news of salvation by faith, which he did whenever a pulpit was offered him. The congregations of the Church of England, however, soon closed their doors to him because of his enthusiasm.

For a year he worked through existing church societies, but resistance to his methods increased.

In George Whitefield , who later became a great preacher of the Evangelical revival in Great Britain and North America, persuaded Wesley to go to the unchurched masses. Wesley gathered converts into societies for continuing fellowship and spiritual growth, and he was asked by a London group to become their leader. Soon other such groups were formed in London, Bristol , and elsewhere.

To avoid the scandal of unworthy members, Wesley published, in , Rules for the Methodist societies.


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To promote new societies he became a widely travelled itinerant preacher. Because most ordained clergymen did not favour his approach, Wesley was compelled to seek the services of dedicated laymen, who also became itinerant preachers and helped administer the Methodist societies.

What John Wesley teaches about church unity

Because the Bishop of London would not ordain some of his preachers to serve in the United States, Wesley took it upon himself, in , to do so. In the same year he pointed out that his societies operated independently of any control by the Church of England. Toward the end of his life, Wesley became an honoured figure in the British Isles. Wesley set out to renew the church he loved and he was prepared to employ any appropriate material from the whole history of Christianity to do it. To his contemporaries, enthusiasm was a dread disease.

Wesley spelled out the right and wrong sorts. A large reader response to this particular article prompts us to include here further comments from the Journal wherein Wesley summarizes his early spiritual journey, concluding with his conversion. Issue 2 John Wesley: Revival and Revolution. Support this ministry Donate. Subscribe to the magazine Subscribe. What's inside.


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An Oxford educated Anglican priest, he was influenced by pietism and through his search for a personal faith was led, along with his brother Charles, into managing a renewal movement directed toward those who did not have access to a church or to those ignored by the church; the poor and the newly made working-class of the early years of the industrial revolution.

It was a faith and a renewal freely given, but one which called forth responsible living and witnessing. But his real genius was in accepting, modifying and directing the creative and spontaneous character of this movement. It is not for nothing that he has been called the Reasonable Enthusiast. Much of what has been identified as core elements of Methodism often started as something else. Class meetings were originally a way to raise funds for preaching houses; and it was discovered that they served well as a nurturing fellowship.

Lay preachers developed as the movement and membership grew; someone preached because Wesley was late and he found it useful.