I sometimes get asked what the Methodist Church is and so I’ve started writing something to help me with the answer – I’m hoping to remember it all. Anyway, here it is – perhaps you could help me by pointing out what I have omitted (this mainly concerns the UK Methodist church by the way).
The Methodist church is movement started by John and Charles Wesley in the 18th century to reform people’s lives by following the teachings of Jesus.
We are a very democratic church which is run by its members with the majority of services being taken by lay preachers.
Methodists played an important role in the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of women (we were the first church in the UK to ordain women, for instance).
Methodists were instrumental in the formation of the trades union movement.
Methodists have got deeply Involved in politics playing an important part in the formation of the Labour party – which according to Harold Wilson owes more to Methodism than Marx – and the Liberal Party and being active in the Conservative party.
After witnessing the disastrous effects of alcohol and gambling on family life in the 19th century Methodists supported the idea of complete abstinence in an attempt to help reform society – hence our reputation but now a matter of personal choice.
At the end of the 19th century in response to the number of homeless and vulnerable children Methodists started the National Children’s home which became one of the largest children’s charities in the UK and still continues its work as Action for Children.
In 1943, and prior to the welfare state, Methodists concerned about caring for the elderly started Methodist Homes for the Aged or MHA, which 70 years later is the largest charity provider of care for the elderly in the country.
Methodists have been deeply involved in caring for the elderly, education and health care. It was a Methodist who started the Salvation Army.
In the 20th century The Methodist Church was one of the biggest providers of youth work in the country through its MAYC youth clubs, Boy’s and Girl’s Brigades.
There are presently about 80 million Methodists worldwide and growing, and there is a Methodist church in nearly every country.
In the 21st century Methodists are pioneering new ways to express what being a Christian means.
We have always had a concern for personal and social holiness – the way we live. We believe that Jesus and his teaching is the way forward for the world and that God’s love is available to all.