Skip Navigation

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 dates back to 1736 when John and Charles Wesley began a unique religious movement. 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 videos for your use. 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

Westminster's Methodist Central Hall hosts historic events that celebrate the life and ministry of John Wesley, founder of The United Methodist Church. Photos by Joe Iovino, United Methodist Communications.

Serving the world from the heart of London: Methodist Central Hall

In January 1946, the first United Nations General Assembly met in a building constructed to celebrate the life and ministry of John Wesley. Read More

The Rev. James Lawson (left) joins Martin Luther King and Ralph Jackson at a March 1968 press conference. Photo used with permission from the SCLC of California.

James Lawson: Reflections on Life, Nonviolence, Civil Rights, MLK

The United Methodist pastor's parents told him “there’s a better way” than violence to resolve conflict. Those words would shape James Lawson’s life, leadership and ministry. View

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

Physical and spiritual health are both important in the life of a person of faith. Photo illustration by Ronny Perry, United Methodist Communications.

Getting in shape: Wesley’s health tips apply today… mostly

In modern times, we have gear to help us stay in shape. Methodism's founder John Wesley had his own unique options at his home. 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

The mother of John and Charles Wesley was born in January. “The differences she made have lived on because of the sons that she raised.” View

Ushers prepare for the offertory during a Sunday morning service at Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church in Washington D.C. Video image by United Methodist Communications.

Methodist History: Church of Presidents

A United Methodist landmark in Washington, D.C. was built with donations from leaders like Lincoln along with church members across the U.S. View

Comic books feature the adventures of Methodism's founding fathers, John Wesley and Francis Asbury. The books were published by Ron Kerr Associates, 1976. Image from video by United Methodist Communications.

Comic Books Animate United Methodist History

John Wesley and Francis Asbury join the ranks of action heroes like Batman and The Hulk in comic books designed to educate and entertain. View

Slanted communion cups allowed Victorian era Methodists to avoid the appearance of drinking alcohol. Video image by United Methodist Communications.

Methodist History: Communion Cups

Have you seen an unusual communion cup set at your church? Learn secrets behind the slanted glassware that many Victorian era Methodists used. View

A Christmas song teaches that peace comes when we live for Jesus. Image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

“Peace upon earth be restored!” A Christmas hymn devotion

A lesser-known Charles Wesley song teaches us the peace we desire in a world of division is experienced only when we allow Christmas to happen within us. Read More

John Wesley argued throughout his life against a complete separation from the Church of England. This statue of him stands outside his house in London. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

What John Wesley teaches about church unity

Wesleyan scholars say that when it comes to Methodism’s founder, the subject of unity gets complicated. Read More

A close-up from a depiction of John Wesley preaching at City Road Chapel in London hangs inside The Old Rectory in Epworth. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

What counts as Wesleyan orthodoxy?

Christians long have debated the essentials of their faith, and that was no different in John Wesley’s day. Read More

Caring for the spiritual well-being of her family was very important to Susanna Wesley. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Courage and conviction: A woman’s leadership through a difficult time

United Methodists, take note. When Susanna Wesley found the spiritual depth of her church lacking, she led her own devotions. When people objected, she stood firm. Read More

Suffragettes march with flags in Washington, D.C., in an archival image dated 1910 to 1920. Six Methodist women advocated for women’s voting rights as part of their Christian calling. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

6 Methodist women who fought for the vote

Expanding the franchise to all adult citizens took great risk and great faith. Fortunately, these Wesleyans were on the case. Read More

The United Methodist Building stands today as a

A Beacon on Capitol Hill: The United Methodist Building

The United Methodist Building stands today as a "witness to God's concern" on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., says the Rev. Clayton Childers. Read More

The window at Lincoln College in Oxford features a depiction of the story of Jonah (2nd from the right) that influenced John Wesley. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Discovering God’s will: John Wesley’s difficult decision

John Wesley set sail for America on October 21, 1735, after a discernment process that included a Bible story and a stained glass window. Read More

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

Welch's Grape Juice was created by a Methodist as a substitute for communion wine. Photo illustration by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Methodist history: Controversy, Communion, and Welch’s Grape Juice

What became a popular grocery item started as a response to concerns at church about alcohol. Read about Dr. Thomas Welch and his recipe's roots. Read More

The Rev. Jason Radmacher, pastor of John Street United Methodist Church, stands at the front of the church, located at 44 John Street in New York City. Photo by Linda Bloom, UMNS

Still present: Methodism in New York

A snapshot of the denomination’s impact on the city through the lens of its oldest congregation. Read More

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