On February 28, 1784, John Wesley founded the first Methodist Church in the United States. Despite being an Anglican, Wesley saw the need to provide a church structure to his followers after the Anglican Church abandoned its American believers during the American Revolution. Methodism, an 18th century movement founded by John Wesley that sought to reform the Church of England from within, eventually broke away from its parent body and became an autonomous church. The World Methodist Council (WCM), an association of churches with a Methodist tradition, comprises more than 40.5 million Methodists in 138 countries.
John Wesley may be the best-known of the Methodist pioneers, but he wasn't the first or the only. The first “Methodist” preaching in Great Britain was in the 1730s in Wales (consider Howell Harris's ministry). Methodism was part of an international movement, whose origins date back to the “pietists” of Germany in the 17th century, who arrived in Great Britain through the Moravians, whom John Wesley had met on his unfortunate visit to the United States (see the Fetter Lane Chapel and the Moravian Church). That same year, through a declaration letter, he appointed a conference of 100 men to govern the Society of Methodists after his death.
After the schism, English Methodism, which had outposts in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, developed rapidly as a church, although it was reluctant to perpetuate its split from the Church of England. The church also engaged in an official debate with Roman Catholics at the national and global levels and reached a surprising degree of agreement while promoting tolerance and understanding on issues that were previously controversial. Methodists in the United States had already separated themselves from the British “connection” (see The Asbury Cabin) and, starting in the 1790s, Methodism in Great Britain was divided by policies, personalities, and priorities. Despite Wesley's desire that the Methodist Society never leave the Church of England, relations with Anglicans were often strained.
He began his work in London in 1739 in an old cannon factory, known as “The Foundry”, but built a new chapel in London in 1778, adding a house on site for his visiting preachers and another for himself. Surprisingly, not all of these fascinating places are churches, although the Methodist Church of Great Britain has more than 500 chapels listed as such. The same thing happened in 1972 and, in 1982, the Anglican Church failed to ratify a proposed “Pact for Visible Unity”, which had the support of the United Reformed Church and the Moravian Church, as well as Methodists. Wesley's ordinations set an important precedent for the Methodist church, but the definitive break with the Church of England occurred in 1795, four years after his death. John Wesley was born in 1703, studied in London and Oxford, and was ordained a deacon in the Church of England in 1725. In 1784, when there was a shortage of ordained ministers in the United States after the Revolution, the Bishop of London refused to ordain a Methodist for the United States. The final form of the plan was approved by the Methodist Church with a very large majority in 1969, but the Church of England did not muster a sufficient majority to implement it. Over the next century and a half, differences of opinion caused several groups to separate and form other Methodist churches. Methodism grew with the Industrial Revolution and Methodists actively participated in the abolition of slave trade and later on unions.
Visit Tolpuddle in Dorset for more information. At a church service in London after returning from his trip to America John felt his heart grow strangely warm and he wrote in his diary that he felt that he trusted Christ alone for salvation; and he was assured that He had taken away his sins even his own and saved him from law of sin and death.