Common Heritage of
The African Methodist Episcopal (AME)
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ)
The African Union Methodist Protestant (AUMP)
The Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME)
Union American Methodist Episcopal (UAME)
and The United Methodist Church (UMC) Churches
Methodism began as a renewal movement within the Church of England led by John Wesley in the eighteenth century. Converts were gathered into small groups which met regularly for Bible study, prayer, hymn singing and discussions about the daily living of their faith in order that they might grow in grace and try to attain holiness. Most of the leaders of these groups were lay women. Members were expected to receive the sacraments from clergy of the Church of England and to follow three General Rules: avoid evil, do good, and employ the means of God's grace for spiritual growth. Methodists was the name given to these followers of John Wesley because of the ordered and disciplined way of life which was practiced.
Preachers were brought together by Wesley to discuss the way "to reform the nation, particularly the Church, and to spread Scriptural holiness over the land." These preachers were sent out to preach the message of personal and social Christian faith.
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Delegates to the Third Methodist Ecumenical Conference, September 1901 Represented are delegates of The Methodist Episcopal Church, The African Methodist Episcopal Church, The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church of America
Shortly before the American Revolution, Methodism spread to the colonies in North America. Lay persons who migrated to the colonies brought with them the teachings and disciplines of the Methodist movement. Their enthusiasm of their faith led them to gather small groups of people to meet regularly for prayer, singing hymns,and sharing the faith. Such groups were formed throughout the colonies (especially in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and North Carolina) and became known as Methodist societies.
The preaching and teachings of these Methodists appealed especially to those considered as the lowliest in society, for the followers of John Wesley brought the message that the gospel is for everyone, slave and free.
Upon the request sent from the colonies, John Wesley appointed two missionaries in 1769 to begin to organize Methodism in America. Members were still requested to receive the sacraments from clergy of the Church of England.
At the close of the Revolutionary War, few priests from the Church of England remained in America. John Wesley ordained two lay preachers and "set apart" Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury to be joint superintendents. In 1784, Francis Asbury sent Freedom Garrettson and "Black Harry" Hosier to call the preachers together. On Christmas Eve in 1784 the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in Baltimore, Maryland.