Global Christianity John Wesley
(1703 - 1791)
Global Christianity

Evangelist, organizer of "Methodism," and leader of evangelical awakening.

John 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 Martin Luther's 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.

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