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Our History

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. Both John and Charles were Church of England missionaries to the colony of Georgia, arriving in March 1736.
Both of the Wesley brothers had transforming religious experiences in May 1738. John’s heart “was strangely warmed” at a prayer meeting on Aldersgate Street in London. In the years following, the Wesleys succeeded in leading a lively renewal movement in the Church of England. As the Methodist movement grew, it became apparent that their ministry would spread to the American colonies.
Organized Methodism in America began as a lay movement. To strengthen the Methodist work in the colonies, John Wesley sent two of his lay preachers to America in 1769. Francis Asbury became the most important figure in early American Methodism. His energetic devotion to the principles of Wesleyan theology, ministry, and organization shaped Methodism in America in a way unmatched by any other individual.
In December 1784, the Christmas Conference of preachers was held in Baltimore at Lovely Lane Chapel to chart the future course of the movement in America. It was at this gathering that the movement became organized as The Methodist Episcopal Church in America.
As The Methodist Episcopal Church was in its infancy, two other churches were being formed. Both preached an evangelical message and experience similar to the Methodists. In 1800 their followers formally organized the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. A second church, The Evangelical Association, was begun by Jacob Albright (1759–1808), a Lutheran farmer who had been converted and nurtured under Methodist teaching. The Evangelical Association was officially organized in 1803. These two churches were to unite with each other in 1946 and with The Methodist Church in 1968 to form The United Methodist Church.
For a more in-depth history of the development of the United Methodist Church, please go to: Methodist History