John Wesley (1703 – 1791) was an Anglican cleric and theologian who is credited with the foundation of Methodism. After a deeply spiritual experience he began his own ministry where he was known to travel and preach outdoors.
Moving across Great Britain and Ireland, he helped form and organize small Christian groups. Eventually, he appointed other evangelists to travel and preach as he did and to care for groups of people. Under Wesley’s direction, Methodists became leaders in many social issues of the day, including prison reform and the abolition of slavery. He believed strongly that Christians could achieve a state where the love of God “reigned supreme in their hearts.” He also believed the love of God would give Christians an outward holiness by putting their faith and love in Christ into action.
Wesley was barred from preaching in many parish churches and the Methodists were persecuted during his early ministry. However, he later became widely respected and, by the end of his life, had been described as “the best loved man in England”.
What Makes Us Methodists
All Christians share the same core beliefs, but each denomination has a set of beliefs that sets it apart from the others. Specifically, Methodists hold the following principles as truth:
- Grace is God’s active presence in our lives and is a gift that is always available. We need only respond in faith. Through God’s grace we grow and mature in our ability to live as Jesus lived.
- Faith and good works belong together. What we believe must be confirmed by what we do.
- Because of what God has done for us, we offer our lives back to God through a life of service. Love of God is always linked to love of neighbor and to a passionate commitment to seeking justice and renewal in the world.
- One cannot be a solitary Christian. As we grow in faith through our participation in the church community, we are also nourished and equipped for mission and service to the world.
Methodists also follow these 3 simple rules:
- Do no harm, “avoiding evil of all kinds”;
- Do good, “of every possible sort, and as far as possible, to all;”
- Practice prayer, Bible reading, worship and the Lord’s Supper.
For more information about what makes us Methodists, click here.