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Religion Library: Methodist


Written by: Ted Vial

Wesley began sending preachers to the American colonies in 1771.As in England, he had a team of lay preachers who rode from society to society, monitoring the beliefs and efforts at holiness of each society member.The system of itinerant circuit riders was very successful in America, where many settlers were "un-churched" because of the distance they lived from towns and cities.

Because of the hostility of many Americans toward the Church of England following the Revolutionary War, and because of the great distance from England, Wesley allowed Methodists in America to form a separate denomination.At the "Christmas Conference" in Baltimore in 1784-85 Dr. Thomas Coke (who had been ordained as a superintendent or bishop by Wesley) and Francis Asbury formed the Methodist Episcopal Church and began to ordain ministers who could offer the sacraments as well as preach.

Study Questions:
     1.    Did Methodism originate with the intentions of becoming a new tradition? Explain.
     2.    How did his understanding of the doctrine of “justification by faith alone” differ from that of the other Protestant reformers?
     3.    What is “prevenient grace”? How do individuals interact with it?
     4.    How did the American Methodist movement originate?


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