John Wesley was a priest in the Church of England, but did not have a personal experience of the forgiveness of his own sins until May 24, 1738. He then embarked on a career of bringing others to this experience through preaching, and the organization of small groups for spiritual encouragement. After his death, his followers formed a new Protestant denomination, known as the Methodists.
Methodism took shape in the context of the beginnings of modern industrialization, urbanization, and the Enlightenment emphasis on experience as the most secure path to knowledge. In addition to their roots in Anglicanism, the most direct influence on John Wesley and Methodism was pietism, specifically, the German pietists known as Moravians.
Methodism was founded by John Wesley and his brother Charles. An influence on both of them that shaped Methodism in many ways was their mother, Susanna Wesley. In America, the Methodist Episcopal Church was founded by Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke.
The most important sacred text for Methodists is the Bible. In addition, beliefs and practices distinctive to Methodists were set down by John Wesley in the Large Minutes of the Conference, Wesley's Sermons, Notes on the New Testament, and the Twenty - Five Articles of Religion.
Methodist histories have moved from defenses of Wesley and his theology, through regional histories and biographies of important leaders, to more recent work that connects the history of Methodism to wider social and cultural concerns.