Wesley, John

   Denomination Founder.
   Wesley was the fifteenth child of the Rector of Epworth, in Humberside, England. He was educated at the University of Oxford and he was ordained to the Church of England ministry. He took over the leadership of the ‘Holy Club’ at Oxford, an earnest society dedicated to spiritual growth founded by his brother Charles wesley and George whitefield. In 1735 he went with Charles to the American colonies to convert the Indians, but the project was not a success and he returned to England in 1738. That same year he underwent a conversion experience. After spending time with the Moravians and Count zinzendorf, he began his career ‘to reform the nation and to spread scriptural holiness over the land’. The rest of his life was dedicated to preaching – frequently out of doors at mass meetings.
   He covered an average of eight thousand miles a year on horseback. In 1744 he held a conference of lay preachers which was to become the annual Methodist Conference. He himself remained within the Church of England but in 1784 he ordained without episcopal authority Thomas coke to work for the new Methodist organisation in America. His organisation was initially a private society, but in 1784 he formally established ‘the Conference of the People called Methodists’ which included all preachers. Then, in 1787, Methodist Chapels were registered as Dissenting Meeting Houses. Today there are Methodist Churches throughout the world, although there have been several subsequent splits in the movement.
   W.R. Cannon, The Theology of John Wesley (1946);
   R.E. Davies, Methodism (1963);
   A.C. Outler (ed.), John Wesley (1964);
   H.D. Rack, Reasonable Enthusiast: John Wesley and the Rise of Methodism (1989);
   A.S. Wood, The Burning Heart (1967).

Who’s Who in Christianity . 2014.

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  • Wesley, John — (1703 1791)    Theological writer, diarist, and founder of Methodism, was the second surviving s. of the Rev. Samuel W., Rector of Epworth, Lincolnshire. The name was also written Westley and Wellesley, and the family appears to be the same as… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

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