History of the Methodist Church

John Wesley (1703-1791) is generally regarded as the founder of Methodism (Fairchild 2016). He and his friends were labelled “Methodists” by fellow students at Oxford University because “of the orderly way they used rules and methods to go about their religious affairs”. Wesley’s preaching led to the formation of Methodist societies within the Church of England. Wesley was ordained and remained an Anglican clergyman until his death, however, some of the decisions he took made it inevitable that Methodism would separate from the Church of England and become a distinct (non-conformist) denomination. The decisive break with the Anglican Church occurred in 1795 with the “Plan of Pacification” which allowed the administration of the sacraments as well as the holding of marriage and funeral services in those Methodist chapels where a majority of officials approved.

Following the establishment of Methodism as a separate denomination a number of groups seceded from the Methodist Church. Many of these subsequently reunited at a later date. A diagram of the “Methodist Family Tree” can be viewed at http://www.methodistheritage.org.uk/history-familytree.htm.

Fairchild, M., 2016. Methodism – Church History and Founding. Available at: http://christianity.about.com/od/methodistdenomination/a/methodishistory.htm [Accessed December 24, 2016].