South Molton Methodist Church

About the Methodist Church

‘Methodists’ was originally a nickname applied to a revival movement in 18th century Britain, based within the Church of England and led by, among others, the brothers John and Charles Wesley.

Both brothers studied at the University of Oxford (at Christ Church) and John went on to become a Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. In the early 1730s a small group of students met regularly for Bible study and prayer, received Communion frequently and undertook works of charity; such devout behaviour was unusual in those times and they were soon ridiculed as the 'Holy Club' because of their ‘methodism’. The 'Methodists' in Oxford were a short-lived group, but they set a pattern for the 'Evangelical Revival'.

For the Wesleys, 'works' as well as faith were essential to the whole of Christian living, and caring for the poor, for prisoners, for widows and orphans mattered a great deal. Methodists were not only interested in welfare, they were concerned to remedy social injustice, and John Wesley's last known letter urged the abolition of 'that execrable villainy'; black slavery. The Wesleys were an influence in prison reform and, inspired by Susanna Wesley, their mother, they earned a reputation as pioneers in education. John Wesley wrote, edited or abridged some 400 publications.

Although John Wesley declared, "I live and die a member of the Church of England", the strength and impact of the movement made a separate Methodist body virtually inevitable.

In the 19th century Methodism in Britain flowed in several channels, including Primitive Methodism which began with 'camp meetings' in 1807 and was organised into a separate body in 1811. The Methodists grew to be a large, respectable and influential section of society; characterised by the 'nonconformist conscience' and also the 'temperance movement' and many members with poor origins became prosperous. The missionary movement also spread the Methodist message around the world.

In 1932 the three main Methodist groups in Britain came together to form the present Methodist Church.

The Methodist Church is part of the whole Church of Christ. It claims no superiority or inferiority to any other part of the Church. All those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and accept the obligations to serve him in the life of the Church and the world are welcome as full members of the Methodist Church.

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