Christian History Timeline: Methodists on the move

Adapted from a timeline prepared by the General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church,

Informal Beginnings 

— 1703 – John Wesley born. 

— 1707 – Charles Wesley born. 

— 1725 – Martin Boehm born. 

— 1726 – Philip William Otterbein born. 

— 1729 – “Holy Club” forms at Oxford.

— 1735 – John Wesley journeys to Georgia as a missionary. 

— 1738 – Wesley brothers have “heartwarming” experiences.

Renewal Movement within the Church of England

— 1739 – Methodist societies form in and around London. 

— 1744 – John Wesley holds first conference of preachers. 

— 1745 – Francis Asbury born.

— 1747 – Thomas Coke born. 

— 1752 – Otterbein arrives in America. 

— 1758 – John Wesley baptizes two African slaves, breaking Methodist color barrier.

— 1759 – Jacob Albright born.

— 1760 – Methodist colonists arrive in America. Richard Allen born. 

— 1763 – Robert Strawbridge organizes a Methodist class in Maryland.

— 1766 – Barbara Heck and Philip Embury establish a Methodist congregation in New York City. A group of “unpartisan preachers” begins meetings that will one day develop into the United Brethren in Christ (UBC).

— 1769 – Richard Boardman and Joseph Pilmore, Wesley’s first official missionaries, arrive in America.

— 1770 – Mary Evans Thorne appointed first woman class leader in colonies.

— 1771 – Francis Asbury arrives in America. American Methodists number 600.

— 1773 – Thomas Rankin leads first conference of American Methodist preachers. 

Organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church 

— 1784 — John Wesley names Thomas Coke superintendent for America. Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) founded at the Christmas Conference and preachers ordained. Asbury elected and ordained as general superintendent. Richard Allen and Absalom Jones are first African Americans licensed to preach by the MEC.

— 1787 – Cokesbury College opens in Maryland. John Wesley writes to Asbury deploring genocide of Native Americans.

— 1788 – Charles Wesley dies.

— 1789 – Asbury and Coke visit President Washington. Methodist Book Concern established. 

— 1791 – John Wesley dies.American Methodists number 57,000. 

— 1792 – Coke and Asbury hold first General Conference of MEC in Baltimore. Allen leads African Americans out of St. George’s Church. 

— 1794 – Allen founds “Mother Bethel.” 

— 1796 – Cokesbury College closes after a fire. James Varick organizes Zion Methodist Episcopal Church in New York.

Expansion, Revivals, Reforms, and Schisms  

— 1800 – Otterbein and Boehm found United Brethren in Christ. MEC issues letter on slavery, allows bishops to ordain African American deacons.

— 1807 – German followers of Jacob Albright organize the Evangelical Association. EA and UBC will one day join with each other (1946) and with Methodists (1968).

— 1808 – Methodists adopt a constitution. Jacob Albright dies.

 — 1810 – EA holds first German camp meeting. 

— 1812 – Martin Boehm dies.

— 1813 – William Otterbein dies.

— 1814 – Thomas Coke dies.

— 1816 – Francis Asbury dies. Allen forms the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME).

— 1817 – Richard Allen permits an African American woman, Jarena Lee, to preach.

— 1820 – Varick founds AME Zion denomination (AMEZ). Reformers debate roles of bishops and laity in MEC. American Methodists number 500,000.

— 1823 – Zion’s Herald, first Methodist weekly newspaper, published.

— 1830 – Methodist Protestant Church organized, seeking a more democratic approach to Methodism.

— 1833 – Turtle Fields becomes first ordained MEC Native American minister. 

— 1835 – MEC layperson Phoebe Palmer (see CH 82) institutes a weekly prayer meeting in her home.

— 1836 – EA begins famous newspaper Der Christliche Botschafter (Christian Ambassador).

— 1840 – Newbury Bible Institute (Vermont) founded as the first American Methodist seminary.

— 1841 – Ladies’ Repository, first Methodist periodical for women, published.

— 1843 – Radical abolitionists exit MEC to form Wesleyan Methodist Church.

— 1844 – Methodists split over issues of slavery and bishops. Indian Mission to Oklahoma Territory organized.

— 1845 – MEC, South (MECS) organized after 1844 split. 

— 1847 – Charity Opheral receives first UBC preacher’s license given to a woman. Otterbein College established as first UBC college.

— 1848 – MEC begins mission work in China.

— 1850 – Five Points Mission established in New York City.

— 1852 – Deaconesses first mentioned in MEC.

— 1853 – Benigno Cardenas preaches first Methodist sermon in Spanish in New Mexico.

— 1855 – Garrett Biblical Institute opens in Illinois.

— 1856 – MEC gives presiding elders authority to employ African American pastors. William and Clementina Rowe Butler become first MEC missionaries to India.

— 1857 – UBC passes a resolution that no woman should be allowed to preach.

— 1860 – Phoebe Palmer proclaims the rights of women to preach in her book Promise of the Father.

— 1864 – Frank Smith, African American preacher, is admitted with full clergy rights to New England Annual Conference. American Methodists number 1,800,000.

By the editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #114 in 2015]

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