“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.”
~ John Wesley
While Wesley remained an Anglican, he saw the need to provide structure for American Christians after the Anglican Church abandoned them during the American Revolution.
Wesley visited America with his brother Charles from 1735 to 1737. In Georgia he became acquainted with the German Moravians. It was later upon his return to London while attending a Moravian that Wesley felt he had a true experience of God’s grace. It was of this experience that Wesley said, “ I felt my heart strangely warmed.”
Wesley separated from the Moravians, but his followers, now known as Methodists were not viewed positively by the Anglican church leadership.
The actual beginnings of Methodism in America came after 1766 when an Irish convert named Philip Embury began to preach in New York and Robert Strawbridge started a church in Maryland. Wesley sent Francis Asbury who arrived in 1771. In 1784 Wesley directed Thomas Coke to proceed with the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. The order of worship and articles of religion Wesley had prepared were adopted.
While there are several branches of Methodists today, in the United States, the United Methodist Church remains the largest mainline denomination, and the second largest Protestant church after the Southern Baptist Convention.