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On May 24, 1738, at a meeting of a Holiness Club in England, John Wesley had an experience of God and felt his heart “strangely warmed.” In his journal he wrote, “I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sin, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

Based on that experience, he began to preach (delivering more than 40,000 sermons in his lifetime) and went on to organize groups into societies, then classes, connections and circuits, under the direction of a superintendent. This methodical approach to faith became the Methodist Church. Soon after, the movement crossed the Atlantic into the New World.

Baltimore was the birthplace of The United Methodist Church in the New World. Methodism officially began in America in 1785, just after Christmas, when Bishops Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke “called all the preachers together” and 60 pastors met at Lovely Lane Meeting House in Baltimore to organize a church that would shape the identity of a new nation.

This region was also the cradle of the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

Like any living organism, over the years the church has grown and divided. The various flavors of the Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Protestant, Methodist Episcopal Church South, Evangelical United Brethren and other traditions united a group of people who in 1968 became The United Methodist Church.

In 1966, preparing for the uniting merger that would come two years later, the church met again in Baltimore under the theme “Forever Beginning.” Today, that theme still applies as the church begins afresh each Sunday, grounded in an ancient history of gospel truths.

For more information on United Methodist history: