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Methodists, Methodism 

A group of Protestant churches founded in England in the eighteenth century on the principles and practices of John Wesley, a priest of the Church of England. Methodism spread from England to the American colonies. It became an important expression of religious life and thought in the New World. Methodism was marked from the outset by its acceptance of the doctrines of historic Christianity. It did not insist strongly on conformity nor did it display a great interest in theological speculation. It emphasized the power of the Holy Spirit to confirm the faith and transform the personal life of the believer. Methodism asserts that the heart of true religion lies in the believer's relationship with God. One of its strong characteristics is its concern for the underprivileged and the improvement of social conditions. Methodism had its origins in the work of John and Charles Wesley. They were members of a group of earnest students at Oxford University who were pledged to frequent attendance at Holy Communion, serious study of scripture, and regular visitation of Oxford prisons. Members of this group were called Methodists. Methodism came to the American colonies around 1760. It was a part of the Great Awakening. Since Methodist "societies" were part of the Church of England in the American colonies, they were not persecuted like the Baptists. In Sept. 1784 John Wesley and Thomas Coke ordained Thomas Vasey and Richard Whatcoat as the first Methodist ministers for America. At the "Christmas Conference" of 1784 at Lovely Lane Chapel, Baltimore, the Methodist societies were organized as the Methodist Episcopal Church. Many evangelical members of the Episcopal Church joined the Methodist Church. The Episcopal Church is in official dialogue with three African American Methodist bodies and participates with the United Methodist Church in the Consultation on Church Union. See Great Awakening; see Wesley, Charles; see Wesley, John. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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