By Amanda Wisner
With countless religions being celebrated by their own beliefs and believers, in our world, these religions are usually drawn back to the first three majors: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Within these branches are variations of each different belief system, there are the bigger, more popular religions, and the more humble, merely recognized religions. One of these only somewhat common religions is Methodism.
Methodism in the United States goes as far back as 1736, even if the Methodist church wasn’t founded until 1968. It all began with John and Charles Wesley, when they had disagreed with the Church of England’s beliefs. Because of this, John Wesley had began to preach in the streets, while Charles had gone onto write more than six thousand hymns, (Which a handful are still found in modern worship) and was one of the founding fathers of the Methodist denomination. However, before John began preaching, he had, one day, decided to tune into a preaching in the streets. After the sermon, John said; "In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading (Martin) Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." Meanwhile, George Whitefield, another former member of the “holy club”, had been a successful preacher around Bristol. So many people had come to Whitefield for help, he had pleaded help from John, who accepted the position with hesitation. Sooner or later, John had began preaching in the streets himself as he warmed to the ways of Whitefield’s preaching.
After John had been preaching for some time, he had been given control of the movement due to his organization skills. However, Whitefield was a firm Calvinist, whereas Wesley did not fully understand this belief. With the movement, Wesley argued that “Christians could enjoy entire sanctification in this life: loving God and their neighbors, meekness and lowliness of heart, abstaining from all appearance of evil, and doing all for the glory of God.”
The addition of John to the group of preachers had brought impact to more people, as he had been listened to by people, and had gained followers. However, when a person or cause gains a following group, there’s always at least one or two people that hold heresy (The obvious hatred of a religion shown through protestant actions) against the group, and John and his group weren’t special selections. Critics of the teachings John and the group spread had nicknamed the believers ‘Methodists’, (Yet this label was worn proudly) and the heretics had gone even further, as Methodists were frequently met with violence as paid protesters had broken up these meetings, and even had gone far enough to threaten Wesley’s life.
Even when John had scheduled his meetings as to not interfere with local Anglican services, the bishop of Bristol had objected to John’s meetings. Leaving the response “The world is my parish”, (In which this phrase later became a common slogan in the Methodist church) John had eventually traveled over 4,000 miles annually, preaching some 40,000 sermons in his years of ministry.
Few Anglican priests had joined the Methodists, yet John held onto the majority of the preaching, along with other tasks that needed to be taken care of. Keeping these responsibilities in line, John had also organized the Methodists into “connections” and “circuits”, which were all under the power of one “superintendent”. Along with periodic meetings, “annual conferences” were held, to worship and make sure all organizations were in order. Eventually, in 1787, John was required to register the lay preachers as non-Anglicans, and had ordained two lay preachers, and Thomas Coke as superintendent. Even if Methodism was moved out of the Church of England, John Wesley had remained Anglican until his death.
After learning about historic Methodism, there are many questions that still waver around in my mind, and these questions are the “What if’s” and others along similar lines. Along with (Extremely briefly) learning about Methodism in school, I actually have learned about John Wesley and the Methodists in church. (Through confirmation class) It’s very interesting to learn about your own religion, whether it be through school, church, or even one’s own curiosity.
Growing up, I had not attended church regularly, yet I had occasionally gone to Sunday school at 9:30 AM, while my parents went to mass. We had been extremely busy during my childhood, yet now, I enjoy church, as there’s more available at church as people get older. I have been attending Lehman Memorial United Methodist Church (In Hatboro, PA) all of my life, and it is truly a beautiful church, both spiritually and architecturally. With an attempt of not boasting about my religion, I will touch on this briefly.
Being a Methodist means several things to many people, whether some find Methodists offensive to them, or others absolutely love Methodists. There are many loopholes to these emotions, as they could be anything. I personally love how (At least in Lehman) everyone can easily get along, as no discrimination exists in the Methodist beliefs I was raised with, as well as everyone being extremely humble, and not shoving their religion into each other’s faces (Like some people assume) and it’s overall a very peaceful and understanding religion.
With a quick wrap-up, we can recall Wesley’s work to go against the Church of England, and had payed off by creating the Methodist denomination, and now to see how John’s contributions affect our society today is pretty neat if you ask me. Overall, Methodism has come a long way, from John Wesley and the Methodists to our Methodists today.
Submitted by our members as well as teens across the world.