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Wesley, John (1703–1791)

  1. Daniel Castelo

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc1460

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Castelo, D. 2011. Wesley, John (1703–1791). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


The son of Anglican parents of a nonconformist background, John Wesley is most often remembered as the principal founder and organizer of the Methodist movement. Born in a rectory at Epworth, Wesley was a priest in the Church of England for most of his adult life, seeking renewal among the Anglicans of his day through a number of religious and social endeavors. After attending Charterhouse School, London, he went on to Christ Church, Oxford and eventually became a fellow of Lincoln College. During his Oxford days, he began to read certain writers on Christian piety, including Thomas à Kempis, Jeremy Taylor, and William Law, with the aim of deepening his practical piety. By 1729 he began to lead a small group at the university that became known as the “Oxford Methodists,” noted in particular for their regular meetings for study and devotion and their programs to assist the poor of the surrounding area. This period at Oxford, later termed by Wesley the “First Rise of Methodism,” was followed by a missionary stint (1736–1738) in the English colony of Georgia in the New World (what he would later call the “Second Rise of Methodism”) and eventually a return to England, when he experienced his famous “heart-warming” experience at Aldersgate Street, London on May 24, 1738. This moment marked the pinnacle of what became a tumultuous relationship with the Moravians, the fallout relating to heretical tendencies he found within the Fetter Lane Society, London. The split was a difficult one since the founding of this society marked for him the “Third Rise of Methodism.”


  • Wesley, John (1703–1791);
  • founder and organizer of the methodist movement;
  • “second rise of methodism