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About The United Methodist Church

Who Are United Methodists (for more information click on the United Methodist History link below)

The United Methodist Church was created on April 23, 1968, when The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church united to form a new denomination.  But Methodism dates back to 1736, and the leadership of John and Charles Wesley.

Theological traditions steeped in the Protestant Reformation and Wesleyanism, similar ecclesiastical structures, and relationships that dated back almost two hundred years facilitated the union. In the Evangelical United Brethren heritage, for example, Philip William Otterbein, the principal founder of the United Brethren in Christ, assisted in the ordination of Francis Asbury to the superintendency of American Methodist work. Jacob Albright, through whose religious experience and leadership the Evangelical Association was begun, was nurtured in a Methodist class meeting following his conversion.

The United Methodist Church shares a common history and heritage with other Methodist and Wesleyan bodies. The lives and ministries of John Wesley (1703–1791) and of his brother, Charles (1707–1788), mark the origin of their common roots.

In 1729, John Wesley attended Oxford University, and his brother, CharlesWesley, formed the “Holy Club” at Oxford.  By 1735, John Wesley had arrived in Georgia, served as chaplain to Georgia Colony, and preached in Spanish to the Native Americans living there. On March 7th, John Wesley held his first service in Savannah.  In 1738, both John and Charles Wesley experience profound spiritual conversations while attending a service at Aldersgate, in London.

As a result, the first Methodist Societies were being started in and around London, and by 1760, Methodist colonists were leaving England for America.

In 1784, the “Christmas Conference” was held, at which preachers were ordained.  Richard Allen and Absalom Jones are the first African Americans licensed to preach.  By 1787 black congregations were being formed throughout America.  And by 1790, African-Americans comprised 20% of all American Methodists.

The Second Great Awakening was the dominant religious development among Protestants in America in the first half of the nineteenth century. Through revivals and camp meetings men and women were brought to an experience of conversion. Circuit riding preachers and lay pastors knit them into a connection.

Charles Wesley died in 1788, followed shortly by John in 1791.

In 1807, the Evangelical Association was organized, followed closely by United Brethren Church in Christ, who held their First General Conference  in 1815.

In 1830 the Methodist Protestant Church was organized as well.  Following it was the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which organized in 1845.  Sadly, however, in that same year, the Methodists North and South churches split over the issue of slavery.  By the early 20th century, the Evangelical church was formed, and the Methodist Church South was moving toward a new relationship with its brothers and sisters of the Methodist Church, North.

In 1922, the Evangelical Church was formed, 1939 saw the formation of the Methodist Church, the union of the Methodist Episcopal Churches, North and South, and the Methodist Protestant Church, and in 1946, the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ merged, to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

By the time The United Methodist Church was created in 1968, through the union of The Methodist Church and Evangelical United Brethren Church, it had approximately 11 million members, making it one of the largest Protestant churches in the world.