organizer of "Methodism," and leader of evangelical awakening.
Wesley, by Robert Hunter, 1765
John Wesley was
ordained in the Church of England in 1728. At Oxford he led small groups
of Christians who sought to combine holy living with service to the poor;
these groups were mockingly called "Methodists." In 1735 John traveled
to Georgia as a missionary. En route, a violent storm almost sank the
ship; a group of Moravians sang
hymns during the storm and Wesley was convicted of his own lack of faith.
After a brief and frustrating attempt at missions in Georgia, Wesley returned
to London. In 1738 he attended a meeting where someone was reading from
commentary on the book of Romans. Wesley's heart was "strangely warmed"
and he received assurance that Christ had saved him from sin and death.
Wesley now sought to reach with the gospel message those who were un-reached
by the Church of England and to make disciples of those who responded.
To achieve these ends, Wesley and his colleagues developed methods from
Pietism: "classes" or small groups
for prayer and Bible study; lay leadership and lay preaching and works
of mercy. Wesley intended Methodism
to renew and reform the Church of England, but soon after his death the
Methodists formally separated from their parent church.