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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 »

 
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

A three-handled love feast cup is on display at the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History in New Jersey.

Methodist History: The What and Why of Love Feasts

John Wesley was influenced by the Moravians in adopting this Christian fellowship meal as a way of building community in the early days of Methodism. View

Photo of Methodist circuit rider Peter Cartwright. Image in the public domain.

Peter Cartwright: Memorable Methodist Circuit Rider

This colorful, early Methodist challenged Abraham Lincoln for political office and won 8-10,000 souls for Christ. View

Exterior view of Barratt's Chapel, a United Methodist Heritage Landmark in Delaware.

Barratt’s Chapel: Independence Hall of American Methodism

Get a drone's eye view of the site where ‘the first truly American-born denomination’ came together. View

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

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

Historic St. George’s United Methodist Church has been called one of the sites all United Methodists should see because it has been a Methodist house of worship continually since 1769. Video image by Jess Warnock, courtesy of United Methodist Communications.

Where was the first Methodist annual conference in America?

The first annual conference in America was held in 1773 at a church that is still in existence today. Read More

The Lorraine Motel (now a museum) is the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D., Creative Commons, 2012.

James Lawson: Befriending James Earl Ray After MLK’s Death

A United Methodist pastor and close friend of Martin King's explains why he reached out to the man accused of killing the civil rights icon. View

Choirs perform Christmas hymns at Barratt's Chapel's annual Christmas Carols concert in 2016.Image from video by Kisker Productions for United Methodist Communications.

Christmas Carols at United Methodist Landmark

Step back in time and enjoy traditional hymns at Barratt's Chapel. “Worshipers were singing those same carols here, same notes, same words, 200 years ago, and that’s special.” View

Archivist Frances Lyons-Bristol assists a visitor to the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History. Video image courtesy of United Methodist Communications.

Preserving Methodist Life Stories

Archivist helps families bring the stories of Methodist preachers and lay people to life. View

William Taylor was a circuit rider in Virginia. Image courtesy of the General Commission on Archives and History.

To Be United Methodist: What is “itineracy”?

Founder John Wesley was a circuit rider who set up a system the church still uses today. Learn why pastors move and who decides. More