The Methodism Portal

Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity whose origins, doctrine and practice derive from the life and teachings of John Wesley. George Whitefield and John's brother Charles Wesley were also significant early leaders in the movement. They were named Methodists for "the methodical way in which they carried out their Christian faith". Methodism originated as a revival movement within the 18th-century Church of England and became a separate denomination after Wesley's death. The movement spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, and beyond because of vigorous missionary work, today claiming approximately 80 million adherents worldwide.

Wesleyan theology, which is upheld by the Methodist churches, focuses on sanctification and the transforming effect of faith on the character of a Christian. Distinguishing doctrines include the new birth, assurance, imparted righteousness, the possibility of entire sanctification, and the works of piety. Scripture is considered as a primary authority, but Methodists also look to Christian tradition, including the historic creeds. Most Methodists teach that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for all of humanity and that salvation is available for all. This is an Arminian doctrine, as opposed to the Calvinist position that God has pre-ordained the salvation of a select group of people. However, Whitefield and several other early leaders of the movement were considered Calvinistic Methodists and held to the Calvinist position.

The movement has a wide variety of forms of worship, ranging from high church to low church in liturgical usage, in addition to tent revivals and camp meetings held at certain times of the year. Denominations that descend from the British Methodist tradition are generally less ritualistic, while American Methodism is more so, the United Methodist Church in particular. Methodism is known for its rich musical tradition, and Charles Wesley was instrumental in writing much of the hymnody of Methodism. (Full article...)

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Sanctuary interior viewed from the balcony
Towson United Methodist Church is a large United Methodist Church in the historic Baltimore County, Maryland suburb of Towson. Its past, rooted in 19th century America, and subsequent growth in the two centuries since then, have closely paralleled the nation's political and sociological trends. It was a congregation split asunder in 1861 on the eve of the American Civil War in a border state of divided loyalties, which eventually reunited and built a church in the post-World War II era of the 1950s, a time of reconciliation and rapid growth by mainline Protestant denominations, especially in the more affluent suburbs.

The 1,200-member church, currently pastored by Rev. Roderick Miller, has a number of community outreach programs, including an accredited child care center and a Boy Scout troop, and actively supports a home for unwed mothers, overseas missions, and Habitat for Humanity projects. The congregation worships in a 1,000-seat sanctuary built in 1958. The large building's prominent spire is a landmark visible for miles from the nearby Baltimore Beltway (Interstate 695). Towson United Methodist Church is located on Hampton Lane at interchange #27B of the Baltimore Beltway and Dulaney Valley Road (Md. Route 146), one-half mile (one km) west of Hampton National Historic Site.

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John Wesley portrait
John Wesley (28 June [O.S. 17 June] 1703 – 2 March 1791) was an Anglican cleric and theologian, and is largely credited with founding the Methodist movement. He helped to organize and form Methodist societies throughout Britain and Ireland, small groups that developed intensive, personal accountability and religious instruction among members.

Under Wesley's direction, Methodists became leaders in many social justice issues of the day, including prison reform and abolitionism movements. Wesley's contribution as a theologian was to propose a system of opposing theological stances. His greatest theological achievement was his promotion of what he termed "Christian perfection" or holiness of heart and life. Wesley insisted that in this life, the Christian could come to a state where the love of God, or perfect love, reigned supreme in one's heart. His evangelical theology, especially his understanding of Christian perfection, was firmly grounded in his sacramental theology. He continually insisted on the general use of the means of grace (prayer, Scripture, meditation, Holy Communion, etc.) as the means by which God transforms the believer.

Today, Wesley's influence as a teacher persists. He continues to be the primary theological interpreter for Methodists the world over. Wesley's call to personal and social holiness continues to challenge Christians who attempt to discern what it means to participate in the Kingdom of God.




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