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History

The United Methodist Church was created on April 23, 1968, when The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church united to form a new denomination.

But Methodism in the U.S. dates back to 1736 when John and Charles Wesley came to the New World to spread the movement they began as students in England. United Methodists share a historic connection to other Methodist and Wesleyan bodies.

In this section, you will find stories and useful links to help you learn more about the roots of our denomination and trace developments that led us to today.

The United Methodist Church has an agency dedicated to preserving the rich history of the denomination. Visit the Archives and History site »

As a fellow at Lincoln College, John Wesley would have had an office similar to this one dedicated to him. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

The method of early Methodism: The Oxford Holy Club

Beginning of a series about how disciple-making groups that form church leaders have been part of our Methodist heritage from the very start. Part 1 of 3. Read More

A statue of John Wesley greets visitors to The New Room in Bristol, England. Photo by Joe Iovino, United Methodist Communications.

The method of Methodism expands: Societies and the New Room

Series continues a look at what happened after the Wesleys left Oxford. See how the small group model shaped the Methodist movement. Part 2 of 3. Read More

Evangelical United Brethren Church Bishop Reuben H. Mueller (left) and Methodist Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke join hands on April 23, 1968. Photo courtesy of archives of United Methodist Communications.

Formation of The United Methodist Church

What is the story of The United Methodist Church? Learn more about how the denomination was born and about the people and issues that shaped it. Read More

Read more about the people, places and events that have shaped the rich texture of The United Methodist Church. Photo by United Methodist Communications.

History Features

Read more about the people, places and events that have shaped the rich texture of The United Methodist Church. Read More

Stained glass window features Shelly Gale, an early deaconess at Mother African Zoar United Methodist Church. Photo by John Coleman.

An Eye on History

The United Methodist Church has a rich history. The videos in this section will help that history come to life in words and pictures. Share the links or download the... View

Women immigrants who traveled alone were often at risk when they arrived at Ellis Island in the late 19th century. Public domain image.

Notable Women in History

Meet women who made noteworthy contributions in the Methodist tradition. Read More

Methodists Ann and Anna Jarvis are credited with creating Mother's Day in the U.S. Courtesy: Historic St. George's UMC.

Mothers of U.S. Mother’s Day were West Virginia Methodists

Ann Jarvis had the idea and her daughter Anna led a campaign in the early 1900s to have Mother's Day recognized as a national holiday. Read More

The sign at Pennington United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn., proclaims a message of hope. File photo by Raymond Landry.

The United Methodist Church: More than a name

Learn how our church's name was chosen. “If you leave the name ‘United’ off you’re leaving off both a significant piece and powerful part of who we are.” Read More

The Rev. Andrea Beyer (left) and the Rev. Cathryn Love stand near a church sign in Beaver Crossing, Nebraska. Image courtesy of Great Plains Conference/creative commons.

Do you know why we are called United Methodists?

The United Methodist Church was born in April. Learn more about how our denomination got its name and why it matters how you say it. Read More

Image portray Susanna Wesley, mother of the founders of Methodism. Courtesy of General Commission on Archives and History.

Susanna Wesley: Mother of Methodism

John and Charles Wesley's mom was a strong woman of faith. “The differences she made have lived on because of the sons that she raised.” View

Photo shows portrait of John Wesley who had a conversion experience at Aldersgate. Image courtesy of United Methodist Communications.

How Aldersgate Changed John Wesley

May 24 is Aldersgate Day, a special time for United Methodists. But do you know why? View

Charles Wesley’s “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” is sung in church of many denominations on Easter Sunday. Image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

Risen today! A Wesley hymn devotion for Easter

United Methodists sing, “Raise your joys and triumphs high!” as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. The final word is life, eternal life with God. Read More

Jim Maag points out an item on a church history wall he helped create at First United Methodist Church of Topeka. Maag is on the archive team. Image from video by United Methodist Communications.

Pro Tips for Preserving Local Church History

Archivists share best practices and cost-saving measures to help local churches preserve the past and share their stories. View

The published and unpublished verse of Charles Wesley teach us a great deal about our relationship with God. Image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

Wesley hymn devotions for Lent and Easter

Many hymns of Charles Wesley focus on Lent and Easter themes. These devotions use some of this early Methodist's work to help us reflect on the season. Read More

The published and unpublished verse of Charles Wesley teach us a great deal about our relationship with God. Image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

Wesley hymn devotions for Advent and Christmas

Charles Wesley, one of Methodism's founders, wrote several hymns for Advent and Christmas. Four devotions drawing on his hymns help us reflect upon the miracle of Christmas. Read More

A genuine Tiffany glass window depicts Jesus in the Garden. The panel is on display in the lobby of the General Commission on Archives and History in Madison, New Jersey.

Methodist History: Tiffany Church Windows

A preservationist offers a quick way to tell if stained glass windows are valuable Tiffany originals. View

Sung or read, the hymns of Charles Wesley draw us closer to God. Image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

Lost in love: A Wesley hymn devotion for Lent

The hymn “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” is Charles Wesley’s prayer for God to fill us with love more and more each day. Read More

Archive photo of Georgia Harkness Methodist theologian.

Georgia Harkness: Methodist Trailblazer in Theology

During Women's History Month, we explore the powerful impact of an author and hymn writer whose work inspired MLK and remains relevant. View

Charles Wesley shares our theology in song, helping us study the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

Forgiveness for me? A Wesley hymn devotion for Lent

Charles Wesley’s “And Can It Be that I Should Gain?” teaches that Jesus' death and resurrection are expressions of God's amazing love for us. Read More

Methodist deaconess Kathryn Maurer is seen in a 1935 photograph. Courtesy of California State Library.

Kathryn Maurer: Methodist Angel Welcomed Immigrants

Meet a deaconess whose kindness and dedication to those seeking a new life made headlines in her day. View

The Rev. Paul Chilcote sings a hymn of Charles Wesley during the 2016 Wesley Pilgrimage in England. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Get Your Spirit in Shape: Singing Our Faith in Lent & Easter

Hymns are written to sing! In this podcast episode, the Rev. Paul Chilcote shares that Charles Wesley’s also teach us during the season. Listen

Methodist reformer Frances Willard is seen in portrait. Courtesy of United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History.

Methodist History: Early Voice for Women’s Rights

Learn more about the 19th century reformer who fought for voting rights and full representation in the Methodist Church. View

This 1869 oil painting by German artist Christian Carl August Noack depicts the Colloquy of Marburg, where Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli hotly debated how Christ is present in the Eucharist. The fight ultimately led to the first split among Protestant reformers. Public domain image from the Gymnasium Philippinum, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Reformation lessons for United Methodists

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is this year. In their fight over Holy Communion, early reformers offer a lesson in how not to handle disagreement. Read More

United Methodists sing of God’s grace during Lent. Image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

“The invitation is to all:” A Wesley hymn devotion for Lent

Charles Wesley’s “Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast” invites everyone to new life in Christ, to communion, and to welcome others. Read More

Pilgrims visit the tomb of John Wesley and learn a valuable lesson for ministry from his epitaph. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

What we can learn from the words on John Wesley’s tomb

The Methodist movement's founder was remembered as a great evangelist and his epitaph has lessons for every Christian. Wesley died March 2, 1791. Read More

Artist's drawing shows sinners seeking repentance at an early Methodist camp meeting. Image in the public domain.

Methodist History: The Mourner’s Bench

Historians say a piece of plain, rustic furniture in early Methodist churches was actually a sacred place of transformation. View