History of Methodism in the United States
The history of Methodism in the United States dates back to the mid-18th Century with the ministries of early Methodist preachers such as Laurence Coughlan and Robert Strawbridge. Following the American Revolution most of the Anglican clergy, in America came back to England. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, sent Thomas Coke to America where he and Francis Asbury founded the Methodist Episcopal Church, to establish itself as the largest denomination in America during the 19th Century. Methodism thrived in America thanks to the Second Great Awakenings beginning in the 1700s. Various African-American denominations were formed during this period, including the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In the early 20th century, many of the splintered Methodist groups joined together to form The Methodist Church. Another merger in 1968 resulted in the formation of The United Methodist Church from the Evangelical United Brethren and the Methodist Church. Other smaller Methodist denominations in the United States, including those that split from the Methodist Episcopal Church, such as the Free Methodist Church, Evangelical Methodist Church, Congregational Methodist Church, Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection and Bible Methodist Connection of Churches, among others.
In 1735, the Wesley brothers and Charles, went to the Georgia Colony to minister to the colonialists and teach the Gospel to the Native American tribes. John Wesley returned to England and met with a group of Moravian Church clergymen he respected, he said, "they appeared to be of one heart, as well as of one judgment, resolved to be Bible-Christians at all events. The Wesley ministers retained their membership in the Church of England. Though not always emphasized or appreciated in the Anglican churches of their day, their teaching emphasized salvation by God's grace, apprehended through faith in Christ. Three teachings they saw as the foundation of Christian faith were: People are all, by nature, "dead in sin," and "children of wrath." They are "justified by faith alone." Faith produces outward holiness. These clergymen became popular, attracting large congregations; the nickname students had used against the Wesleys was revived. In 1766, Reverend Laurence Coughlan arrived in Newfoundland and opened a school at Black Head in Conception Bay.
In the late 1760s, two Methodist lay preachers formed societies. Philip Embury began the work in New York at the instigation of fellow Irish Methodist Barbara Heck. Soon, Captain Webb from the British Army aided him, he traveled along the coast. In 1770, two authorized Methodist preachers, Richard Boardman and Joseph Pilmoor, arrived from the British Connexion, they were preceded by the unauthorized Robert Williams who set about supporting himself by publishing American editions of Wesley's hymnbooks without obtaining permission to do so. These men were soon followed by others, including Francis Asbury. Asbury reorganized the mid-Atlantic work in accordance with the Wesleyan model. Internal conflict characterized this period. Missionaries irritated many of the leading lay members. During the American Revolution, "the mid-Atlantic work" diminished, and, by 1778, the work was reduced to one circuit. Asbury refused to leave, he remained in Delaware during this period. Robert Strawbridge began a Methodist work in Maryland at the same time as Embury began his work in New York.
They did not know of each other's existence. Strawbridge organized a circuit, he trained many influential assistants who became some of the first leaders of American Methodism. His work grew both in numbers and in geographical spread; the British missionaries annexed it into the American connection. However, the native preachers continued to work side-by-side with the missionaries, they continued to recruit and dispatch more native preachers. Southern Methodism was not dependent on missionaries in the same way as mid-Atlantic Methodism. Up until this time, with the exception of Strawbridge, none of the missionaries or American preachers was ordained; the Methodist people received the sacraments at the hands of ministers from established Anglican churches. Most of the Anglican priests were Loyalists who fled to New York or Canada during the war. In the absence of Anglican ordination, a group of native preachers ordained themselves; this caused a split between the southern preachers. Asbury mediated the crisis by convincing the southern preachers to wait for Wesley's response to the sacramental crisis.
That response came in 1784. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, came to believe that the New Testament evidence did not leave the power of ordination to the priesthood in the hands of bishops but that other priests could do ordination. In 1784, he ordained preachers for Scotland and England and America, with power to administer the sacraments. At that time, Wesley sent the Rev. Dr. Thomas Coke to America to form an independent American Methodist church; the native circuit riders met in late December. Coke had orders to ordain Asbury as a joint superintendent of the new church. However, Asbury turned to the assembled conference and said he would not accept it unless the preachers voted him into that office; this was done, from that moment forward, the general superintendents received their authori
John William Fletcher
John William Fletcher, English divine, was born at Nyon in Switzerland, his original name being de la Fléchère. Fletcher was a contemporary of John Wesley, a key interpreter of Wesleyan theology in the 18th century, one of Methodism's first great theologians. Of French Huguenot stock, his given name was Jean Guillaume de la Fléchère. Fletcher was renowned in Britain for his generosity. I want nothing but more grace." He was educated at Geneva, preferring an army career to a clerical one, went to Lisbon and enlisted. An accident prevented his sailing with his regiment to Brazil, after a visit to Flanders, where an uncle offered to secure a commission for him, he went to England in 1740/50, he had harboured a secret desire to travel to England, had studied the English language prior to his arrival in London. In the autumn of 1751 he became tutor to the sons of Thomas and Susanna Hill, a wealthy Shropshire family, who spent part of the year in London. On one of the family's stays in London, Fletcher first heard of the Methodists and became acquainted with John and Charles Wesley, as well as his future wife, Mary Bosanquet.
In 1757 Fletcher was ordained as deacon and priest in the Church of England, after preaching his first sermon at Atcham being appointed curate to the Rev. Rowland Chambre in the parish of Madeley, Shropshire. In addition to performing the duties of his curacy, he sometimes preached with John Wesley and assisted him with clerical duties in Wesley's London chapels; as a preacher in his own right, but as one of Wesley's coadjutors, Fletcher became known as a fervent supporter of the Evangelical Revival. Fletcher perceived a vocational call from God to parochial ministry, being led by this calling rather than by the temptation to wealth and influence, he refusing an offer to be presented to the wealthy living of Dunham, accepting instead the humble industrialising parish of Madeley in Shropshire, he had developed a sincere religious and social concern for the people of this populous part of the West Midlands where he had first served in the Christian ministry, here, for twenty-five years, he lived and worked with unique devotion and zeal, described by his wife as his, "unexampled labours" in the epitaph she penned for his iron tomb.
Fletcher was devoted to the Methodist concern for spiritual renewal and revival, committed himself to the Wesleys by correspondence and by coming to their aid as a theologian, while maintaining a never-wavering commitment to the Church of England. Indeed, much of Fletcher's controversial theological writings claimed their foundation was the 39 Articles, the Book of Common Prayer, the Homilies of the Church of England. Yet, for all his support of John Wesley's and his Methodist societies which in many cases came into tension with the parish clergy, John Fletcher believed the Methodist model functioned best within the parochial system, himself implemented his own brand of Methodism in his own parish. John Wesley had chosen Fletcher to lead the Methodist movement upon Wesley's passing, but Fletcher died prior to Wesley. In 1781, Fletcher returned from the Continent where he had been convalescing from a severe respiratory disorder. Upon his return he picked up a correspondence with a woman he had met nearly thirty years previous, Mary Bosanquet, who in the early 1770s had become one of the first woman preachers authorised by John Wesley to preach.
Fletcher and Bosanquet first met during the mid-to-late 1770s at The Foundery. When they met, Fletcher had considered proposing to Bosanquet, but thought that she was too rich to accept his proposal, that he would do better dedicating himself to God. Mr. Fletcher and Miss Bosanquet carried on a correspondence during June 1781, in which Fletcher confessed that he had admired her since they had met. Fletcher and Bosanquet were married at Batley Church in Yorkshire on 12 November 1781. Fletcher exchanged pulpits with the evangelical vicar of Bradford, John Crosse, to settle his wife's affairs in Yorkshire, they returned to Madeley together on 2 January 1782. Their marriage was to be short-lived, for Fletcher died less than four years on 14 August 1785. After his death, Mary Fletcher was allowed to continue living in the vicarage by the new vicar, Henry Burton, a pluralist clergyman, the incumbent of Atcham parish, near Shrewsbury. Though John Wesley attempted to persuade Mrs. Fletcher to leave Madeley for a ministry with the Methodists in London, she refused, believing she was called to carry on her late husband's work in the parish.
This she did for the next thirty years. She died in the parish and was buried in the same grave as her husband in December 1815. In theology he upheld the Arminian doctrines of free will, universal redemption and general atonement, against the Calvinist doctrines of unconditional election and limited atonement, his Arminian theology is most outlined in his famous Checks to Antinomianism. He attempted to confront his theological adversaries with courtesy and fairness, although some of his contemporaries judged him harshly for his writings, his resignation on doctrinal grounds of the superintendency of the Countess of Huntingdon's college at Trevecca left no unpleasantness. Fletcher was characterised by saintly piety, rare devotion, blamelessness of life, the testimony of his contemporaries to his godliness is unanimous. Although Fletcher's funeral sermon was preached by his friend, Rev. Thomas Hatton, a like-minded clergyman from a neighbouring parish, Wesley wrote an elegiac sermon in the months after Fletcher's death, reflecting upon the text of Psalm 37:37, "Mark the perfect man".
Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition which has developed from the practices and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called "Anglicans"; the majority of Anglicans are members of national or regional ecclesiastical provinces of the international Anglican Communion, which forms the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. They are in full communion with the See of Canterbury, thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, whom the communion refers to as its primus inter pares, he calls the decennial Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates, the Anglican Consultative Council. Some churches that are not part of the Anglican Communion or recognized by the Anglican Communion call themselves Anglican, including those that are part of the Continuing Anglican movement and Anglican realignment. Anglicans base their Christian faith on the Bible, traditions of the apostolic Church, apostolic succession and the writings of the Church Fathers.
Anglicanism forms one of the branches of Western Christianity, having definitively declared its independence from the Holy See at the time of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. Many of the new Anglican formularies of the mid-16th century corresponded to those of contemporary Protestantism; these reforms in the Church of England were understood by one of those most responsible for them, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, others as navigating a middle way between two of the emerging Protestant traditions, namely Lutheranism and Calvinism. In the first half of the 17th century, the Church of England and its associated Church of Ireland were presented by some Anglican divines as comprising a distinct Christian tradition, with theologies and forms of worship representing a different kind of middle way, or via media, between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism – a perspective that came to be influential in theories of Anglican identity and expressed in the description of Anglicanism as "Catholic and Reformed".
The degree of distinction between Protestant and Catholic tendencies within the Anglican tradition is a matter of debate both within specific Anglican churches and throughout the Anglican Communion. Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer, the collection of services in one Book used for centuries; the Book is acknowledged as a principal tie that binds the Anglican Communion together as a liturgical rather than a confessional tradition or one possessing a magisterium as in the Roman Catholic Church. After the American Revolution, Anglican congregations in the United States and British North America were each reconstituted into autonomous churches with their own bishops and self-governing structures. Through the expansion of the British Empire and the activity of Christian missions, this model was adopted as the model for many newly formed churches in Africa and Asia-Pacific. In the 19th century, the term Anglicanism was coined to describe the common religious tradition of these churches.
The word Anglican originates in Anglicana ecclesia libera sit, a phrase from the Magna Carta dated 15 June 1215, meaning "the Anglican Church shall be free". Adherents of Anglicanism are called Anglicans; as an adjective, "Anglican" is used to describe the people and churches, as well as the liturgical traditions and theological concepts developed by the Church of England. As a noun, an Anglican is a member of a church in the Anglican Communion; the word is used by followers of separated groups which have left the communion or have been founded separately from it, although this is considered as a misuse by the Anglican Communion. The word Anglicanism came into being in the 19th century; the word referred only to the teachings and rites of Christians throughout the world in communion with the see of Canterbury, but has come to sometimes be extended to any church following those traditions rather than actual membership in the modern Anglican Communion. Although the term Anglican is found referring to the Church of England as far back as the 16th century, its use did not become general until the latter half of the 19th century.
In British parliamentary legislation referring to the English Established Church, there is no need for a description. When the Union with Ireland Act created the United Church of England and Ireland, it is specified that it shall be one "Protestant Episcopal Church", thereby distinguishing its form of church government from the Presbyterian polity that prevails in the Church of Scotland; the word Episcopal is preferred in the title of the Episcopal Church and the Scottish Episcopal Church, though the full name of the former is The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America. Elsewhere, the term "Anglican Church" came to be preferred as it distinguished these churches from others that maintain an episcopal polity. Anglicanism, in its structures and forms of worship, is understood as a distinct Christian tradition representing a middle ground between what are perceived to be the extremes of the claims of 16th-century Roman Ca
The Wesleyan Quadrilateral, or Methodist Quadrilateral, is a methodology for theological reflection, credited to John Wesley, leader of the Methodist movement in the late 18th Century. The term itself was coined by 20th century American Methodist scholar Albert C. Outler; this method based its teaching on four sources as the basis of theological and doctrinal development. These four sources are scripture, tradition and Christian experience. Upon examination of Wesley's work, Albert Outler theorized that Wesley used four different sources in coming to theological conclusions. Wesley believed, first of all, that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in "scripture" as the sole foundational source; the centrality of scripture was so important for Wesley that he called himself "a man of one book". However, doctrine had to be in keeping with Christian orthodox "tradition". So, tradition became in his view the second aspect of the so-called Quadrilateral. Furthermore, Wesley believed that faith is more than an acknowledgment of ideas.
Thus, as a practical theologian, he contended that part of the theological method would involve "experiential" faith. In other words, truth, if truth, should be vivified in the personal experience of Christians; every doctrine must be able to be defended "rationally". He did not divorce faith from reason. Tradition and reason, are subject always to scripture, primary. Scripture Wesley insisted that scripture is the first authority and contains the only measure whereby all other truth is tested, it was delivered by authors. It is a rule sufficient of itself, it neither is capable of, any further addition. The scripture references to justification by faith as the gateway to scriptural holiness are well known to true Wesleyans: Deut. 30:6. 36:25, 29. 5:48. 5:23. Tradition Wesley wrote that it is supposed that traditional evidence is weakened by length of time, as it must pass through so many hands in a continued succession of ages. Although other evidence is stronger, he insisted: "Do not undervalue traditional evidence.
Let it have its place and its due honour. It is serviceable in its kind, in its degree". Wesley states that those of clear understanding should be aware of its full force. For him it supplies a link through 1,700 years of history with the apostles; the witness to justification and sanctification is an unbroken chain drawing us into fellowship with those who have finished the race, fought the fight, who now reign with God in his glory and might. Reason Although scripture is sufficient unto itself and is the foundation of true religion, Wesley wrote: "Now, of what excellent use is reason, if we would either understand ourselves, or explain to others, those living oracles", he states quite that without reason we cannot understand the essential truths of Scripture. Reason, however, is not a mere human invention, it must be assisted by the Holy Spirit. With regard to justification by faith and sanctification Wesley said that although reason cannot produce faith, when impartial reason speaks we can understand the new birth, inward holiness, outward holiness.
Experience Apart from scripture, experience is the strongest proof of Christianity. "What the scriptures promise, I enjoy". Again, Wesley insisted that we cannot have reasonable assurance of something unless we have experienced it personally. John Wesley was assured of both justification and sanctification because he had experienced them in his own life. What Christianity promised was accomplished in his soul. Furthermore, Christianity is the completion of all those promises. Although traditional proof is complex, experience is simple: "One thing. Although tradition establishes the evidence a long way off, experience makes it present to all persons; as for the proof of justification and sanctification Wesley states that Christianity is an experience of holiness and happiness, the image of God impressed on a created spirit, a fountain of peace and love springing up into everlasting life. In practice, at least one Christian denomination based on the teaching of Wesley, the United Methodist Church, asserts that "Wesley believed that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, confirmed by reason.
Scripture is primary, revealing the Word of God'so far as it is necessary for our salvation.'"Wesley saw his four sources of authority not as prescriptive of how one should form their theology, but as descriptive of how anyone does form theology. As an astute observer of human behavior, a pragmatist, Wesley's approach to the Quadrilateral was most phenomenological, describing in a practical way how things work in actual human experience. Thus, when Wesley speaks of "Tradition", he does not refer to ancient Church Tradition and the writings of the great theologians and Church Fathers of days past, but of the immediate and present theological influences which contribute to a person's understanding of God and of Christian theology. "Tradition" may include such influences as the beliefs and instruction of one's family and upbringing. It may include the various beliefs and values which one encounters and which have an effect on one's understanding of Scripture. In United Methodist understanding, both laypeople and clergy alike share in “our theological t
Arminianism is a branch of Protestantism based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius and his historic supporters known as Remonstrants. His teachings held to the five solae of the Reformation, but they were distinct from particular teachings of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, other Protestant Reformers. Jacobus Arminius was a student of Theodore Beza at the Theological University of Geneva. Arminianism is known to some as a soteriological diversification of Protestant Calvinist Christianity. Dutch Arminianism was articulated in the Remonstrance, a theological statement signed by 45 ministers and submitted to the States General of the Netherlands; the Synod of Dort was called by the States General to consider the Five Articles of Remonstrance. These articles asserted; those who signed this remonstrance and others who supported its theology have since been known as Remonstrants."Many Christian denominations have been influenced by Arminian views on the will of man being freed by Grace prior to regeneration, notably the Baptists in the 16th century, the Methodists in the 18th century and the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the 19th century.
Some falsely assert that Universalists and Unitarians in the 18th and 19th centuries were theologically linked with Arminianism. Denominations such as the Anabaptists and other groups prior to the Reformation have affirmed that each person may choose the contingent response of either resisting God's grace or yielding to it; the original beliefs of Jacobus Arminius himself are defined as Arminianism, but more broadly, the term may embrace the teachings of Hugo Grotius, John Wesley, others as well. Classical Arminianism, to which Arminius is the main contributor, Wesleyan Arminianism, to which John Wesley is the main contributor, are the two main schools of thought. Wesleyan Arminianism is identical with Methodism; some schools of thought, notably semipelagianism—which teaches that the first step of Salvation is by human will—are confused as being Arminian in nature. But classical Arminianism holds that the first step of Salvation is the grace of God; the Council of Orange condemned semi-Pelagian thought, is accepted by some as a document which can be understood as teaching a doctrine between Augustinian thought and semi-Pelagian thought, relegating Arminianism to the orthodoxy of the early Church fathers.
The two systems of Calvinism and Arminianism share both history and many doctrines, the history of Christian theology. Arminianism is related to Calvinism historically. However, because of their differences over the doctrines of divine predestination and election, many people view these schools of thought as opposed to each other; the distinction is whether God allows His desire to save all to be resisted by an individual's will or if God's grace is irresistible and limited to only some. Put another way, is God's sovereignty shown, in part, through His allowance of free decisions? Some Calvinists assert that the Arminian perspective presents a synergistic system of Salvation and therefore is not only by Grace, while Arminians reject this conclusion. Many consider the theological differences to be crucial differences in doctrine, while others find them to be minor. Jacobus Arminius was a Dutch theologian in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, he was taught by Theodore Beza, Calvin's hand-picked successor, but after examination of the scriptures, he rejected his teacher's theology that it is God who unconditionally elects some for salvation.
Instead Arminius proposed that the election of God was of believers, thereby making it conditional on faith. Arminius's views were challenged by the Dutch Calvinists Franciscus Gomarus, but Arminius died before a national synod could occur. Arminius's followers, not wanting to adopt their leader's name, called themselves the Remonstrants; when Arminius died before he could satisfy Holland's State General's request for a 14-page paper outlining his views, the Remonstrants replied in his stead crafting the Five articles of Remonstrance. After some political maneuvering, the Dutch Calvinists were able to convince Prince Maurice of Nassau to deal with the situation. Maurice systematically removed Arminian magistrates from office and called a national synod at Dordrecht; this Synod of Dort was open to Dutch Calvinists with Calvinist representatives from other countries, in 1618 published a condemnation of Arminius an
United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is a mainline Protestant denomination and a major part of Methodism. In the 19th century, its main predecessor, the Methodist Episcopal Church, was a leader in evangelicalism; the present denomination was founded in 1968 in Dallas, Texas, by union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley in England, as well as the Great Awakening in the United States; as such, the church's theological orientation is decidedly Wesleyan. It embraces both evangelical elements; the United Methodist Church has a connectional polity, a typical feature of a number of Methodist denominations. It is organized into conferences; the highest level is called the General Conference and is the only organization which may speak for the UMC. The church is a member of the World Council of Churches, the World Methodist Council, other religious associations. With at least 12 million members as of 2014, the UMC is the largest denomination within the wider Methodist movement of 80 million people across the world.
In the United States, the UMC ranks as the largest mainline Protestant denomination, the largest Protestant church after the Southern Baptist Convention, the third largest Christian denomination. In 2014, its worldwide membership was distributed as follows: 7 million in the United States, 4.4 million in Africa and Europe. In 2015, Pew Research estimated that 3.6 percent of the US population, or 9 million adult adherents, self-identify with the United Methodist Church revealing a much larger number of adherents than registered membership. The movement, which would become the United Methodist Church, began in the mid-18th century within the Church of England. A small group of students, including John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitefield, met at Oxford University, they living a holy life. Other students mocked them, saying they were the "Holy Club" and "the Methodists", being methodical and exceptionally detailed in their Bible study and disciplined lifestyle; the so-called Methodists started individual societies or classes for members of the Church of England who wanted to live a more religious life.
In 1735, John and Charles Wesley went to America, hoping to teach the gospel to the American Indians in the colony of Georgia. Instead, John became vicar of the church in Savannah, his preaching was legalistic and full of harsh rules, the congregation rejected him. After two years in America, he returned to England dejected and confused. On his journey to America, he had been impressed with the faith of the German Moravians on board, when he returned to England he spent time with a German Moravian, passing through England, Peter Böhler. Peter believed a person is saved through the grace of God and not by works, John had many conversations with Peter about this topic. On May 25, 1738, after listening to a reading of Martin Luther's preface to Romans, John came to the understanding that his good works could not save him and he could rest in God's grace for salvation. For the first time in his life, he felt the assurance of salvation. In less than two years, the "Holy Club" disbanded. John Wesley met with a group of clergy.
He said "they appeared to be of one heart, as well as of one judgment, resolved to be Bible-Christians at all events. The ministers retained their membership in the Church of England. Though not always emphasized or appreciated in the Anglican churches of their day, their teaching emphasized salvation by God's grace, acquired through faith in Christ. Three teachings they saw as the foundation of Christian faith were: People are all by nature dead in sin and children of wrath, they are justified by faith alone. Faith produces outward holiness; these clergy became popular, attracting large congregations. The nickname students had used against the Wesleys was revived; the English preacher Francis Asbury arrived in America in 1771. He became a "circuit rider", taking the gospel to the furthest reaches of the new frontier as he had done as a preacher in England; the first official organization in the United States occurred in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1784, with the formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church at the Christmas Conference with Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke as the leaders.
Though John Wesley wanted the Methodists to stay within the Church of England, the American Revolution decisively separated the Methodists in the American colonies from the life and sacraments of the Anglican Church. In 1784, after unsuccessful attempts to have the Church of England send a bishop to start a new church in the colonies, Wesley decisively appointed fellow priest Thomas Coke as superintendent to organize a separate Methodist Society. Together with Coke, Wesley sent a revision of the Anglican Prayerbook and the Articles of Religion which were received and adopted by the Baltimore Christmas Conference of 1784 establishing the Methodist Episcopal Church; the conference was held at the Lovely Lane Methodist Church, considered the Mother Church of American Methodism. The new church grew in the young country as it employed circuit riders, many of whom were laymen, to travel the rural nation by horseback to preach the Gospel and to establish churches until there was scarcely any village in the United States without a Methodist presence.
With 4,000 circuit riders by 1844, the Methodist Episcopal Church became the largest Protestant denomination in the