We’ve all heard that history repeats itself. Last month, I wrote about the first two “Great Awakenings” and specific to them, revivals.
This month, I’d like to look at the history of the Methodist, originally known as the Methodist Episcopal Church. The largest denomination of the nineteenth century, the men leading the movement and its circuit riders have fascinated me.
|John Wesley, renown as founder of Methodists
I think most people associate John Wesley with starting the movement to Methodism; his brother Charles played a part as well.
One of eight living siblings, the Englishman received his education at Oxford and was ordained in the Anglican Church but began seeing the church didn’t call its parishioners to repentance.
|John Wesley preaching to Native American Indians
Because of his beliefs, he was forbidden to preach and accepted an invitation for him and his brother to go to America.
They sailed in 1735 for Savannah in the Province of Georgia. On the way, he met and was very impressed by a group of Moravian settlers. He arrived but rather than evangelizing the indigenous native, he preached mostly to colonials.
Serving there as the parish priest two years, he fell in love but broke it off so as not to be distracted for serving God. The young woman married another soon then because Wesley refused her communion—because she hadn’t told him ahead of time, she would ask him for it—and was sued over it. He fled back to England feeling like a failure.
|John Wesley preaching outside a church
Blocked from preaching in Bristol, he sought out the Moravians and went to Germany to study with them. On his return to England, he got together with George Whitfield, an old Oxford friend. Neither was allowed to preach in the churches, so Whitfield preached in the fields and encouraged Wesley to as well. He did but wrote in his journal:
I could scarce reconcile myself to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of which he [Whitefield] set me an example on Sunday; having been all my life till very lately so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church.
Do you know what the Wesleys' ‘method’ was? In a nutshell, to be saved by faith. He proposed that all men were born dead in their sin and needed to be saved by God’s grace, justified only by their faith in God that brought about both inward and outward holiness.
The Church of England decided who could preach and where, setting the boundaries of the parishes, but Wesley paid them little attention, setting up new societies (churches) all around England and placing a follower in charge though they were not ordained by the Anglicans.
Those in charge considered him dangerous for his ‘methods’ and dissed him and his teachings in sermons and in print—sometimes mobs physically attacked Wesley and his followers, but the churches he established grew. Very quickly, his clergymen became popular, attracting large congregations.
His friend George Whitfield crossed the ocean and preached up and down through the colonies of America in the 1740s, and in 1766, the England settlers who followed the Wesley brothers' teachings carried their newfound religion to America.
By 1794, the new preachers founded the Methodist Episcopal Church in America, ordaining deacons, elders, and bishops. The new way, ‘methods’ brought a new passion to the church. People got involved and started Bible study groups, no longer sitting in the pews board and barely listening.
|The Circuit Rider: A Tale of the Heroic Age
by Edward Eggleston
As the churches sent out layman to go out, riding horses, and preach in the new communities popping up all over the west, more churches were established.
And these churches grew to spread Wesley’s methods and Whitfield’s more Calvinistic teachings across America.
They and their followers became known as Methodists.
In my Texas Romance Family Saga series---ten full-length novels and six 'Companion Books' strong, I love to mention my families' outings to church. They're Baptists, Methodists, Church of Christ, and Holiness, and they even attend tent revivals!
I hope you'll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy the research to make sure I take you back to the 19th century! My motto is "Praying my story gives God glory!" BLESSINGS, Y'ALL!
Award-winning hybrid author Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory. Her best-selling novels have garnered over 1000 5-Star reviews, attesting to the Father’s favor.
Readers love her Historical Christian romance family sagas best, but she also writes Christian contemporary romance, Biblical fiction, and for young adults and mid-grade booklovers. They count Caryl’s characters as family or very close friends.
The prolific writer loves singing the new songs He gives her almost as much as penning tales—hear a few at YouTube! Married to Ron over fifty years, she shares four children and eighteen grandsugars. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.