Summary: A message for the 40th Anniversary of the Wesleyan Church
Roots of Reform, Revival and Righteousness
A Brief History of the Wesleyan Church
October 5, 2008 – 40th Anniversary Celebration
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:3-5
Just over 16 years ago, two local churches merged to form one united church. The Oakland Church still stands, outside of Mount Orab, just off of state route 774. The church has been renamed the Lord’s House of Prayer. Would the families connected with the Oakland church please stand? The Oakland Wesleyan Church and the Mount Orab Wesleyan Church merged with one shared location here in Mount Orab and renamed the church United Wesleyan. Would the families connected to the Mount Orab Church prior to the merge please stand? Together those two churches have proven that we can indeed beat the odds. The vast majority of church mergers simply do not survive past five to ten years with the result that no church remains. After 16 years, they have formed a strong church.
Today, we are celebrating 40 years as a Wesleyan Church. Clealry our roots run much deeper than just forty years. You may have noticed, as you came in this morning that the cornerstone of our church building is more than forty years old. The Wesleyan Church is only forty years old this year but our roots as a church are much stronger. Our church is reflection of the larger church because the Wesleyan Church is the result of a merger. The Wesleyan Church was formed, in 1968 with the merger of two older denominations, The Wesleyan Methodist Church and the Pilgrim Holiness Church. Both denominations hold the same basic roots with John Wesley.
The Wesley Brothers
The Wesleyan movement was founded by John and Charles Wesley, during the early 1700’s, in England. The early 1700’s in England were days of massive social, political, economic and spiritual turmoil. For all practical purposes, England was headed for a brutal and bloody revolution, much like what France experienced. It was in the midst of this turmoil that John and Charles Wesley found themselves in.
In May 1783 both John and Charles Wesley experienced spiritual renewal during services held by at Oxford University by a group called the Holy Club. Others at Oxford, gave these men another name, meant to be an insult: Methodists. The name was to reflect their approach to following Christ methodically in spiritual discipline.
John and Charles became leaders within the rising Methodist movement that swept across England. The revival was spurred; by the outdoor preaching of John and the moving hymn writing of Charles. John’s preaching led 1000’s to Christ and called for a radical organization of the new converts. Instead, of simply just putting the people into existing churches, John created two new and distinct groupings. The larger groups, called societies, met for preaching and worship and the smaller groups, called classes or bands, were for spiritual care and accountability.
John Wesley required people to get tickets for the meetings of the societies. The tickets could only be received; at the class meetings. This eliminated believers from just being a part of worship without instruction or accountability. Instruction and accountability are two of the benchmark problems in the church in America today.
The revivals eventually led to something that neither, John or Charles expected or wanted, a new denomination. The Methodist Church was officially founded; in America in 1784 and in England in 1795 following the death of John Wesley.
Roots of Reform – Brief Outline of History of the Wesleyan Methodist Church
In the early 1800’s the Methodist church began to have serious problems on two distinct levels that were in need of reform, social and spiritual.
The social reforms were needed in the area of slavery. The Methodist church would not condemn or even criticize the slave trade in America. This was one of the chief aims of John Wesley in England. Slavery was a moral and social blight on American soil. A small group of individuals began to seek reform within the Methodist Church to become a source of Anti-slavery spirit. The Methodist Church refused, to change their position and would not support a statement on freedom for slaves. This group of reformers held the Wesleyan Anti-Slavery Convention in 1843 and within a year the Wesleyan Methodist Church was born.
Freedom’s Hill – North Carolina