The Probationer’s Catechism, Part 2: Q&As on the History of Methodism

The following text is from the Second Lecture (“Historical”) of the “Probationer’s Hand-book: Religious, Historical, Doctrinal, Disciplinary and Practical,” a series of lectures in catechetical form intended to prepare probationary members for full membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church. These outlines could be adapted for a church membership class.

13. Who is the founder of Methodism?
John Wesley, born at Epworth, England, June 17, 1703.

14. Where and in what year did Methodism formally take its rise?
In the year 1739, at Bristol, England, where Wesley organized the first Methodist class or society.

15. Why were they called Methodists?
Probably because of their methodical religious habits.

16. What was the immediate cause of the formation of these societies?
The lack of vital piety in the Church of England.

17. What was the relation of Mr. Wesley to the Church of England?
He continued in its communion until his death, March 2, 1791.

18. When and how did Methodism originate in America?
In the year 1766, through the labors of Philip Embury, a Methodist local preacher from Ireland, who began preaching in New York city at the solicitation of Barbara Heck, a devout Methodist woman. About the same time Robert Strawbridge, from the north of Ireland, began preaching in Maryland. As a separate denomination, the Methodist Episcopal Church was not organized until December 25, 1784, at the “ Christmas Conference,” held in Lovely Lane Chapel, Baltimore, Maryland.

19. Where has the largest development of Methodism been?
In the United States.

20. How came the Church to receive the name Methodist Episcopal, and who was its first Bishop?
Mr. Wesley preferred the Episcopal form of Church government, and ordained and sent Dr. Coke to be the first Bishop, or general superintendent, of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. Francis Asbury, the “Pioneer of American Methodism,” was the first Bishop elected after the Church was formally organized.

21. How many Bishops has the Church had?
Forty-nine, including five Missionary Bishops, (1896.)

22. Are there branches of Methodism, and in what do they differ from the mother Church?
There are many different branches of Methodism, and they differ chiefly in their forms of Church government. In doctrine they are almost, if not quite, identical.

23. When did the greatest division in the Church occur?
In the year 1844, when the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was virtually organized. The first General Conference, when formal organization was perfected, was held in May, 1845.

24. When and where was the first Ecumenical Methodist Conference held?
In August, 1881, in the City Road Chapel, London, England.

[Note. If practicable, on the evening of this Lecture let some of the Probationers bring short essays, or give brief talks on some phase of Methodist history, past or present. Much biographical and other matter has been introduced in this way. Probationers have taken great delight in looking up “referred questions.” This plan might also be used with other Lectures.]

Continue reading: “The Probationer’s Catechism, Part 3: Q&As on the Doctrines of Methodism.”