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Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley’s evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. Born in Epworth, Lincolnshire in 1703 he was the son of Anglican Parish Priest Samuel Wesley and his wife Susannah. His younger brother Charles was instrumental in writing much of the hymnody of the Methodist Church. George Whitefield, another significant leader in the movement, was known for his unorthodox ministry of itinerant open-air preaching. Wesley, along with his brother founded a holy club while they were at Oxford, where John was a professor. The holy club met weekly and they systematically set about living a holy life. They were branded as “Methodist” by students at Oxford who derided the methodical way they ordered their lives. Wesley took the attempted mockery and turned it into a title of honour. Methodism’s founder John Wesley (1703-1791) was a charismatic Anglican theologian who began a deeply spiritual Christian revival movement. Get schoolarship help from our partnet “customessaywriter“. Ironically he never intended to create his own church. His brother and fellow Methodist leader Charles said: “I live and die a member of the Church of England.”
Initially Whitefield and the Wesleys merely sought reform, by way of a return to the gospel, within the Church of England, but the movement spread with revival and soon a significant number of Anglican clergy became known as Methodists in the mid-18th century. The movement did not form a separate denomination in England until after John Wesley’s death in 1791. Although Wesley and most of his followers were decidedly Arminian in their theological outlook, George Whitefield, Howell Harris, and Selina Hastings (the Countess of Huntingdon) were notable for being Calvinistic Methodists. John Wesley, not a bishop, ordained ministers for America, where there was a drastic shortage of clergy to administer the sacraments following the War of Independance. The Bishop of London had refused to ordain ministers for this purpose, and Wesley felt he was forced to act.ordained priests in the United States, against the sole right of a bishop to ordain. These irregular ordinations set the foundation of the separation of the Methodist Church from the Episcopal Church. Disputes about the status of the travelling preachers and the administration of the sacraments were resolved by the Plan of Pacification (1795) which was a decisive break with the Church of England.
The influence of Whitefield and Lady Huntingdon on the Church of England was a factor in the founding of the Free Church of England in 1844. Through vigorous missionary activity Methodism spread throughout the British Empire and, mostly through Whitefield’s. Early Methodists were drawn from all levels of society, including the aristocracy, but the Methodist preachers took the message to labourers and criminals who tended to be left outside of organized religion at that time. Wesley himself thought it wrong to preach outside a church building until persuaded otherwise by Whitefield.
Doctrinally, the branches of Methodism following the Wesleys are Arminian, while those following Harris and Whitefield are Calvinistic. Wesley maintained the Arminian doctrines that were dominant in the 18th century Church of England, while Whitefield adopted Calvinism through his contacts with Calvinists in Scotland and New England. Methodism has a very wide variety of forms of worship, ranging from high church to low church in liturgical usage. Both Whitefield and the Wesleys themselves greatly valued the Anglican liturgy and tradition, and the Methodist worship in The Book of Offices was based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.