The Origins and Early Growth of Methodism, 1730–91

Authored by: Ted A. Campbell

The Ashgate Research Companion to World Methodism

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409401384
eBook ISBN: 9781315613789
Adobe ISBN: 9781317040996


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As the introduction to this volume indicates, the term ‘Methodism’ can be understood in a variety of ways. This chapter offers a summary and assessment of scholarship on the origins and early growth of Methodism understood in the specific sense of the Wesleyan branch of the Evangelical Revival. The dates 1730–91 refer to specific events in the life of John Wesley: his initial engagement with an Oxford religious society between 1729 and 1730, and his death in 1791. In this period Methodism functioned primarily as a religious movement and not as a separate church or denomination, though by 1784 John Wesley had authorised the formation of a Methodist church in the United States and he had taken measures in the British Isles that, as Frank Baker explained it, had separated the Methodist societies from the Church of England in fact if not in name. 1 1

This is the argument of Frank Baker’s John Wesley and the Church of England (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1970). Baker details, chapter by chapter, the series of events that led Methodist groups under John Wesley’s leadership farther and farther from the Church of England, culminating in his ordinations and other actions of 1784.

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