A Brief History of the Methodist Church

The Methodist Church has its roots in 18th century Britain, and was founded by John Wesley, aided by his brother Charles and others.

Both John and Charles studied at Christ Church, Oxford.  In the early 1730's, a small group of students met regularly for prayer and Bible study and received Communion frequently.  They also undertook works of charity; such devout behaviour was unusual in those times and they were soon ridiculed.  They earned themselves the nickname "Methodists" because of their methodical approach to worship and study of the Bible.  Among others in the 'Holy Club' (another nickname) was George Whitefield who would become the greatest preacher of the time.  The Wesleys, Whitefield and other leaders were mostly ordained clergy of the Church of England.

In 1735 John and Charles accepted an invitation to serve as chaplains in America, however this was unsuccessful, and both were back in Britain by 1738.  Neither returned to America, but 50 years or so later some of their followers did, and so Methodism spread in the 'New World'.

Both brothers were influenced by the Moravians and joined a 'Religious Society' in London.  In May 1738 both underwent a profound spiritual experience and John famously described his in his Journal for 24 May:

"In the evening I went unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther and preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter to 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."

For the half-century following Charles' experience, it is estimated that he wrote more than 6,000 hymns.  John, on the other hand, was the organiser who converted the fledgling movement into the organisation which eventually became the global Methodist Church of today.

Despite declaring, "I live and die a member of the Church of England", the force of Methodism, especially after John's clandestine ordinations in 1784, made a separate body a certainty.

In the 19th century Britain Methodism followed several different strands, including Primitive Methodism, Wesleyan Methodism and the United Methodists (themselves formed from several smaller groups of Methodists).  In 1932 the three main Methodist groups in Britain came together to form the present Methodist Church.

After John's death, leadership of the Church was taken on by the Methodist Conference and the President, for the year of office, becomes the lead minister of the church.

The Methodist Church has a Connexional (where the whole church acts and decides together) structure.  The Connexion comprises a number of Districts (currently 32) and each District contains a number of circuits, which, themselves are made up of individual Churches and Chapels.  Broadwaters Methodist is a member of the Kidderminster and Stourport Circuit in the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District.  

The Methodist Church is part of the whole Church of Christ.  It does not claim to be either superior or inferior to any other part of the Church.  All who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and accept the obligations to serve him in the life of the Church and the world are welcome as full members of the Methodist Church.

To find out more about the Methodist Church worldwide, visit the official website here.  Don't forget to finish your visit to this website though!