Methodists

   ‘Methodist’ was originally a term of abuse coined by Oxford undergraduates making fun of their fellow students who gathered around John Wesley and his younger brother Charles and attempted to follow their rule (or ‘method’) to deepen their religious life. John Wesley (1703–91) was the son of an Anglican clergyman. He himself took holy orders and never wished to break away from the Church of England, but he reacted against what he sensed as its spiritual aridity, and strove for evangelical revival. Returning from a missionary journey to the United States under the auspices of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, he found that his opinions were not welcomed by the Anglican church. He then took to preaching in the open air, soon attracting huge crowds who welcomed his Bible-based sermons with their stress on salvation for all through grace (Arminianism), personal commitment, and practical good works to alleviate suffering. His brother Charles added an invaluable dimension to the revivalist fervour with his hymns; these expounded simple doctrine in clear, vigorous language and were sung to catchy modern tunes. John Wesley was a tireless traveller, and his doctrines soon spread throughout Britain and North America, making a special appeal to the lowlier classes in society that Anglicanism tended to neglect. Disputes over the ordination of priests inevitably led to a breach with the Church of England, and squabbles about church organization and liturgy resulted in the division of Methodism into a number of more or less independent sub-groups, each claiming it alone represented the genuine tradition. Reunion was achieved by the formation of the Methodist Church of Great Britain in 1932.
   As currently constituted, the Methodist Church is characterized by a high degree of involvement of the laity in its work and organization, but the administration of communion is normally reserved to ministers. Though numbers are not buoyant, Methodism in Britain has some 400,000 full members, and more than a million people are more loosely connected; membership worldwide is around 26,000,000. Methodism has always had a strong social conscience, and in Wales in particular it has been a focus for political activism, especially trade unionism. There is truth in the saying that ‘the Labour movement owes more to Methodism than to Marxism’. Methodism has also traditionally emphasized missionary work and children’s education.
   See also: Anglican Church; Elim
   Further reading
    The Methodist Church: Minutes of Conference and Directory, London: Methodist Church Conference Office, published annually.
   CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • METHODISTS —    a body of Christians founded by John Wesley in the interests of personal religion, ecclesiastically governed by a Conference with subordinate district synods, and holding and professing evangelical principles, which they teach agreeably to the …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Methodists — Meth·od·ist || meθədɪst n. member of the Methodist church, member of the largest Christian denomination that grew out of a revival led by John Wesley (Religion) adj. of the Methodist church …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Methodists — noun a Protestant denomination founded on the principles of John Wesley and Charles Wesley • Syn: ↑Methodist Church • Hypernyms: ↑Protestant denomination • Member Meronyms: ↑Methodist • Part Meronyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Primitive Methodists — Die Primitive Methodists (Ursprüngliche Methodisten, auch Primitive Methodist Connexion oder Primitive Methodist Church) waren eine Methodistische Freikirche, welche von 1807/1812 bis Ende 1932 in Großbritannien existierte. In den USA existiert… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Calvinistic Methodists — are a body of Christians forming the Presbyterian Church of Wales and claiming to be the only denomination of the Presbyterian order in Wales which is of purely Welsh origin.Its beginnings may be traced to the labours of the Rev. Griffith Jones… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Methodists — This list deals with those who are notable in the history or culture of all Methodist churches. For other Methodists who are not notable in Methodist history or culture, see .Clergy*Bernhard Anderson Old Testament scholar. *Ephraim Kingsbury… …   Wikipedia

  • Protestant Methodists — The Protestant Methodists were a small Methodist church based in Leeds. They left the Methodist conference in 1827 in protest at the installation of an organ in Brunswick Chapel in Leeds. This grew into a wider dispute around the style of… …   Wikipedia

  • Wesleyan Methodists Association — Wesleyan Methodists Association, s. Methodisten …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • African-American Methodists —    African Americans have played an essential role in American Methodism from its origins. The various independent black Methodist churches and organizations still maintain a significant position in African American religious life today.… …   Encyclopedia of Protestantism

  • WELSH CALVINISTIC METHODISTS —    the largest Nonconformist body in Wales, of native growth, and that originated in the middle of the 18th century in connection with a great religious awakening; has an ecclesiastical constitution on Presbyterian lines, and is in alliance with… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.