The Founder of Methodism was born the 17th June 1703 in Epworth, England. His father was Samuel (Anglican Minister) and the mother was Susannah. He was the 13th child (out of 19). Each of the children had a special time each week alone with their mother during which their spiritual education was encouraged.
– John was miraculously rescued from a burning rectory at an age of 5 and a half years, he often referred to himself as a “brand plucked from the burning—“(Zech 3:2).
– He enrolled to ChristChurchCollege in Oxford University in 1720, where he obtained a BA in 1724. He came from a very poor family, his friends often helped to pay his fees.
– He was ordained into the ministry in He was ordained into the ministry in September 1725 following his mother’s encouragement. While at Oxford, he underwent “religious conversion” with strong emphasis on good works and self denial. He realized his previous lack of understanding of the evangelical faith or salvation and foundation of repentance.
– Sally Kirkham was the main influence on his conversion, through literature and the discussions they shared.
– In 1730, after three years ministering in rural towns, John returned to Oxford and joined hands with his brother Charles (and few other students) to form a small group called the “Holy Club”. The aim was to help each other take their studies seriously, but expanded to include Bible study, weekly communion, obedience to church orders, prayer and visiting the sick, poor and the prisons. Other students made fun of the Holy Club and gave them nicknames like “Bible-moths”, “enthusiasts” and “Methodists”.
– The “Methodist” nickname came from their being strict with their time and order of doing things i.e. methodical.
– In 1735, he was invited to Georgia (American Colony) as minister by a friend, his ministry was however a failure.
– On Pentecost Sunday in 1738, his brother Charles (also an Anglican Priest) experienced conversion, and three days later on 24 May, John felt a “strange heart-warming experience, in Aldersgate Street where one was reading Luther preface of the Epistle to the Romans. He felt he trusted Christ and him alone for His salvation.
– He celebrated the special day in worship with his young brother Charles.
– In 1739, John and Charles began to preach out-doors, a move the Anglican Church referred to as “wild enthusiasm” and closed their doors on them.
– The Message of the revival was simple and clear:
I. Salvation is by faith alone.
II. Assurance (of salvation)
III. Christian perfection
IV. Social awareness
– The hymns of the Revival were written during that period; Charles Wesley wrote over 3000 hymns, 150 of these are found in our English hymn book.
– John Wesley was a genius as far as organization is concerned. When people responded to his “Societies” of the new Christians were formed in each place, each with their own leadership and organization. Somehow the nickname “Methodist” became attached to these new “Societies”. He always regarded these as Revival movements within the Anglican Church. Members were encouraged to worship regularly and take communion at their local church.
– In 1740, John Wesley started working with smaller groups within Societies called “classes”. The purpose was collection of money to pay for a new chapel at Bristol, but leaders expanded them to provide pastoral care. Bible study prayers, church discipline and communion teachings in class meetings saw Methodists growing in faith.
– By 1742, he started training local preachers to hold and maintain the work in the local societies. He traveled extensively on horseback preaching over 1000 a year for the 40 years of his ministry, he encountered active opposition from the Anglican Church of the time.
– It was never Wesley’s intention that Methodism should separate from the Church of England (Anglican Church). He referred to Methodism as ”raised up by God to spread scriptural holiness throughout the land.”
– John Wesley died on the 2nd of March 1791 (aged 87). Some of his last words were, “The best of all is that God is with us”. Both John and Charles lived and died as Anglican priests.
– In 1795, Methodism broke away from the Anglicans and allowed for its own ordination and the administration of the sacraments.