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The Religious Affiliation of
John Wesley
the founder of Methodism


Although the Wesley brothers are widely regarded as the founders of the Methodist movement, they themselves were never technically members of a Methodist denomination. Officially, they were life-long Anglicans.

From: Alan C. Clifford, "Charles Wesley", most recent revision 4 October 1997, on The Christian Bookshop website (http://www.christian-bookshop.co.uk/free/biogs/cwesley.htm; viewed 13 August 2005):

Samuel Wesley's ambition was to make scholars and [Anglican] clergymen of his three sons [including Charles Wesley and John Wesley]... John was educated at Charterhouse, but Charles like his older brother Samuel - was sent to Westminster school... In June 1726, he entered Christ Church, Oxford. By then, John had been ordained and elected a Fellow of Lincoln College... After John returned for a while to Epworth to assist his father, Charles became deeply exercised about spiritual things. He gathered together some others who shared his new religious seriousness. Thus began the 'Holy Club' in 1729, its members soon to receive the nickname 'Methodists'. While John later became leader of the little group, it was started by Charles. Thus he was properly the 'first Methodist'. In 1732, George Whitefield of Pembroke College joined the group, and a close bond of friendship developed between himself and Charles Wesley who was now a College tutor...

It has been said with some truth that if George Whitefield was Methodism's orator, and John Wesley its organiser, then Charles Wesley was its poet...

During the early 1750s, Methodism was becoming a nationwide phenomenon. The intense persecution was beginning to subside. In days when many people travelled on horseback, you could tell a Methodist was coming by his singing. "We overtook a lad whistling one of our tunes," wrote Charles Wesley. It became increasingly clear that his labours were often taxing his strength...

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Webpage created 13 August 2005. Last modified 13 August 2005.
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