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John Wesley (1703-1791) was the founder of Methodism within the Church of England during the eighteenth century. Methodism was a movement of pietistic revivalism. Wesley was a student at Oxford when he organized a "Holy Club" that included his brother Charles Wesley (1707-1788), George Whitefield (1714-1770), and several other students. They were "methodical" in their devotion to disciplines such as Bible study and visiting the needy. They came to be known as Methodists. John Wesley had a conversion experience at a Moravian meeting in Aldersgate Street, London, in 1738. He recalled that his heart was "strangely warmed." Charles also had an experience of inner conversion in 1738. The Methodist revival emphasized personalized faith and conversion of the heart. Methodist theology has been characterized as Arminian. John and Charles both engaged in an itinerant ministry of preaching. Charles wrote over 5,000 hymn texts, including "Come, thou long expected Jesus" (Hymn 66), "O for a thousand tongues to sing my dear Redeemer's Praise" (Hymn 493), and "Love divine, all loves excelling" (Hymn 657). Hymn singing has an important role in Methodist worship. John organized and extended the Methodist Movement. Lay preachers were used to proclaim the gospel. Conferences of lay preachers were held in England from 1744. In 1784 John ordained Thomas Coke (1747-1814) as Superintendent for the Methodists in America. John also instructed Coke to ordain Francis Asbury (1745-1816) as a Superintendent. Coke and Asbury became joint superintendents of Methodist work in America. The title superintendent was changed to bishop in 1787. Preachers were elected and ordained at the Christmas Conference in 1784 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Methodist Episcopal Church in America was begun. Charles opposed the ordinations by John, who was a priest of the Church of England. Charles also opposed separation from the Church of England. Although John performed more than twenty ordinations of English Methodists before he died, the schism of the Methodists from the Church of England followed his death. John and Charles Wesley are commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Mar. 3. The United Methodist Church is one of the largest Protestant denominations in the United States and the largest Methodist body in the world. There are also smaller Methodist churches in the United States, such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church. 




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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