Mark 13:10 "  And the gospel must first be preached to all nations."

EARLY METHODIST HISTORY

The foundations of Methodism are traced back to John Wesley, an Anglican priest in England. He was born on June 28, 1703 in Epworth, England, the son of Samuel and Susannah Wesley. His father was an Anglican priest and his mother a devote Christian. It was his mother who had a strong influence on his life. John Wesley began his studies at Oxford University at age seventeen and in 1726 he was elected a fellow at Lincoln College at Oxford. In 1728 he was ordained a priest of the Church of England.

During his time at Oxford John, his brother Charles and other students organized a society devoted to religious life. They studied the bible daily, took communion weekly and fasted regularly. Because of the "methodical" way in which the members of this society reflected their religious beliefs they came to be known as Methodists. John Wesley's commitment and dedication to God and to Our Lord Jesus Christ can be seen in his sermon, The Circumcision of the Heart preached at St. Mary's, Oxford University, on January 1, 1733. The sermons and writings of John Wesley form the basic foundation for what would become the Modern United Methodist Church.

In 1735 John and Charles journeyed to the American colony of Georgia but after two years returned to England. At that time John was discouraged and doubted his faith. Back in London he became friends with members of a German Christian society, the Moravians. On May 24, 1738 while at a religious society meeting he had a deep religious experience. He wrote in his journal, "I felt my heart strangely warmed". With a renewed faith John. along with his brother Charles and a friend George Whitfield, took the Word of God's love and salvation throughout Britain. Converts were organized into religious societies which were small local groups guided by Wesley's teachings. In 1741 Wesley organized a system of traveling preachers (circuit riders) who carried the Word to distant communities.

Methodism in America began as a lay movement. In 1766 a small society was formed in New York by Barbara Hech and Philip Embury. In 1769, Wesley sent his first preachers to take charge. In 1784 Wesley began to ordain ministers for America, an act which created conflict between the Anglican Church and Methodists. On December 24, 1784 (in what is now known as "The Christmas Conference"), sixty American preachers met in Baltimore, Maryland to form the Methodist Episcopal Church. Francis Asbury was ordained by Thomas Coke as a minister. The following day he was ordained Presbyter and assumed his responsibilitites as the leader of early Methodism in America. Under Asbury leadership Methodism flourished in America. Randall UMC was one of the early churches that was organized during the leadership of Asbury (1784).

John Wesley died on March 2, 1791. He remained an Anglican priest all his life, but his immense faith and Christian commitment led to the formation of a religious movement which to this day is dedicated to social justice and to sharing the Word of God to all.


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