WESLEYAN, OUR CHURCH
In the 1700’s, Christianity experienced a vital and dynamic movement that swept across England. This awakening was largely the result of the labors of a few men, especially John Wesley, Charles Wesley, and George Whitefield. It was this eighteenth century English revival under the work of John Wesley that would eventually give birth to the Wesleyan movement.
John Wesley, born in 1703 in Epworth, England was not always a man who enjoyed a personal, saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. In spite of the fact that he was already an ordained minister and had also served as a missionary to America, it was not until May of 1738 while attending a small Bible study on a street called Aldersgate in London, England that he felt his heart strangely warmed by the assurance of personal salvation while someone was reading from the Preface of Martin Luther’s Commentary on the book of Romans. He then discovered that sanctification (growth that comes after one’s conversion) and a life of holiness was also received by faith. Rejecting the Calvinism (the teachings of a man named John Calvin who had lived and pastored in Geneva, Switzerland in the 1500’s) of his day, he emphasized four great biblical truths:
1. Salvation was provided for all men. (Calvin said it was only for a few)
2. Salvation was provided for all sin.
3. Salvation was certified by the personal witness of the Holy Spirit.
4. Salvation was received by faith.
With his brother, Charles, John Wesley reached out to the unchurched through preaching outdoors (beginning in 1739) to crowds on their way to and from work. A surge of spiritual renewal followed, beginning first in Bristol, England, which lasted over the next 50 years, bringing a moral transformation to England.
The movement, known as Methodism, spread across the British Isles, and Wesley traveled thousands of miles a year to keep in touch with the congregation. His concern for the common people led him to help the needy, provide medical aid, establish a lending fund, start schools and encourage Methodists to vote. His influence helped regulate child labor and end slavery. In the 1760’s, Methodism was carried to the American colonies and less than one hundred years later the Wesleyan Methodist movement began.
The early American Methodists (as Wesley’s followers were to be called) were largely faithful to Wesley’s emphasis on doctrine and Christian conduct. It was not long until many within the church began to feel that the social issue of slavery could not be condoned in the light of the teachings of Jesus Christ. As this opposition to slavery became more pronounced in the North, reform movements began. It was in the midst of the agitation for the abolition of human slavery that the Wesleyan Methodist Church of America was born in Utica, New York in 1843. It was a reform movement led by courageous men, chief of whom was Orange Scott (1800-47), who would not be intimidated into silence on a moral issue. The new organization was called The Wesleyan Methodist Connection of America.
On June 26, 1968 the Wesleyan Methodist Church of America and the Pilgrim Holiness Church were united to form the Wesleyan Church. Our denomination has over 3,000 churches in nearly every state of the union and divided into 39 districts. Our commitment is to Jesus Christ and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19,20).
So now you know who we are.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:35,37 NLT
WESLEYAN, WHO WE ARE
Wesleyans : Who we are. The name “Wesleyan” is in honor of John Wesley, a priest in the Church of England who was the inspiration and founder of the Methodist Movement. Wesley was an outstanding Oxford scholar, yet regarded himself as “a man of one book,” the Bible. It was the Bible which motivated his vision for offering Christ to the common people of England in a way that led to that nation’s greatest spiritual revival. It was Biblical truth that inspired John Wesley to develop a school for orphans, job programs, and medical assistance for the poor, efforts to reform inhumane prisons, and arguments for the abolition of slavery, a great evil of his time. Confidence in the Bible as “the only and sufficient rule for Christian faith and practice” (to use Wesley’s own words) is still a hallmark of The Wesleyan Church today. We bring the Message of Love and Hope to the people where they are, no matter who they are. The Wesleyan Church is a Spirit-led, praying movement called to evangelize and make disciples of all people by equipping believers, developing leaders, multiplying churches, and transforming communities.