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Methodism is a name for several Protestant denominations and independent churches that emerged in England in the 18th century. The first Methodists, of whom John Wesley is the best-known, split from the Church of England, in protest against what they saw as apathy on the Anglicans' part.

There are two main Methodist movements, the Wesleyan Methodists, who follow Arminian view of free will, and the Calvinist Methodists, who, as the name implies, follow Calvinist traditions. Hugh Bourne in the early 19th century, split from the Wesleyan Methodists to for the Primitive Methodism movement. In a trend that would later influence main stream Methodism, Primitives encouraged both women and the uneducated to play a larger role as evangelists, seeing value in their views and opinions. [1]

There are somewhere between three and four hundred thousand Methodists in the U.K., and about 70 million worldwide. [2]


Social work

Methodism has a strong sense of charity and helping the less fortunate. Traditionally, Methodists have been involved in emancipating and educating poor people, and many Methodists combine their missionary work in the developing world with humanitarian and development work such as famine relief, clean water, agricultural improvement, and better education.[3] From the very early days, the Methodists focused on the under-served sections of society, specifically those working hard manual labor, those serving time in prisons, and those unable to fit within mainstream society. In the United States, the early Methodist movements focused a great deal of time, trying to convert the "black man", both freeman and slave.

United Methodist Church's political and social positions

It should be noted that like many Protestant denominations in the US, the United Methodist Church is struggling with a potential schism, as a battle brews between urban/liberal Methodists, and the more conservative (self-proclaimed) "traditional" Methodists. Gay rights is perhaps the single biggest issue discussed at the General Conference each year for roughly the last 10 years.

The United Methodist Church has taken a stand on several central arguments that come up in US political discourse:

  • Teaching of Evolution - The UMC has formally stated that Evolution is a sound scientific doctrine and should be taught in schools. They go on to state that "Creationism" in any form does not belong in science classrooms.[4]
  • Abortion - The UMC favors keeping abortion legal, and accepts that each individual woman must be allowed to make her own choice, though they go out of their way to clarify that they do not "condone" abortion. Ministers are asked to respect her choice, and support her in her time of need. The Church as a whole hopes to offer enough resources to help a woman make the choice to have her child, especially if the main reason for the abortion is economics.[5] The UMC has a formally "strongly condemns late-term and partial birth abortion".
  • Gay ministers - The UMC takes the stance that homosexuality is a sin, and that a "practicing homosexual" may not formally serve the church, but should be welcomed as a member of the church, presumably the same way on would welcome a drunkard -- in the hopes of curing him[6].
  • Gay marriage - the UMC is against gay marriages in their church, though there are various smaller Methodist groups arguing that civil unions as a State institution should be allowed with the goal of social equality in mind. It is, of course, a highly contentious topic[7].
  • Women in the clergy - The Methodists were one of the first Protestant denominations to ordain women, beginning in 1956.

See also

External links


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