|The Wesleyan Church|
|Associations||Christian Holiness Partnership, National Association of Evangelicals, World Methodist Council|
Utica, New York
|Separated from||Methodist Episcopal Church|
|Congregations||5,800 (1,731 North America)|
|Members||worldwide: 516,203 (231,339 North America)|
The Wesleyan Church is a holiness Christian denomination in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Indonesia, Asia and Australia. The church is part of the holiness movement and has roots in the teachings of John Wesley. The church is Wesleyan and Arminian in doctrine.
Near the end of 2014, the Wesleyan Church had grown to an average of 516,203 adherents weekly in around 5,800 churches worldwide and is active in almost 100 nations. In North America alone there were 146,996 members in 1,700 congregations, with an average worship attendance of 231,339. The growing statistics for 2015 reveals the church is now around 1 million strong worldwide.
Wesleyan Life is the official publication. Global Partners is the official nonprofit missions organization. The Wesleyan Church world headquarters are in Fishers, Indiana.
Background to formation of The Wesleyan Church
The Wesleyan Methodist Connection was officially formed in 1843 at an organizing conference in Utica, New York, by a group of ministers and laymen splitting from the Methodist Episcopal Church. The split was primarily over their objections to slavery, though they had secondary issues as well. Orange Scott presided as the meeting formed a federation of churches at first calling themselves the Wesleyan Methodist Connection, a name chosen to emphasize the primacy of the local church, and the intended nature of the denomination as an association of churches. Other leaders at the organizing conference were LaRoy Sunderland, who had been tried and defrocked for his antislavery writings, Lucious C. Matlack, and Luther Lee, a minister who later operated an Underground Railroad station in Syracuse, New York.
The denomination sponsored traveling preachers on the frontier and into Canada, where they appealed to workingmen and farmers. Typical was Rev. James Caughey, an American sent to Ontario by the Wesleyan Methodist Church from the 1840s through 1864. He brought in the converts by the score, most notably in the revivals in Canada West 1851–53. His technique combined restrained emotionalism with a clear call for personal commitment, coupled with follow-up action to organize support from converts. It was a time when the Holiness Movement caught fire, with the revitalized interest of men and women in Christian perfection. Caughey successfully bridged the gap between the style of earlier camp meetings and the needs of more sophisticated Methodist congregations in the emerging cities.
In 1966 the denomination merged with the Alliance of Reformed Baptists of Canada and 1968 with the Pilgrim Holiness Church. It spread through revivals emphasizing a deepening experience with God called holiness or sanctification. Heart purity was a central theme. During this period of time, many small churches developed through revivals and the emphasis of sanctification (taught by John Wesley, but not emphasized by many Methodists). As many as 25 or 30 small denominations were formed and eventually merged with other groups to enlarge the church. The church was strong in missionary and revival emphasis. The merger took place in 1968 at Anderson University, Anderson, Indiana.
In addition to anti-slavery, the early Wesleyan Methodists championed the rights of women. In 1848, the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, hosted the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention. It is commemorated by the Women's Rights National Historical Park in the village today. Luther Lee, General President in 1856, preached at the ordination service of Antoinette Brown (Blackwell), the very first woman ordained to the Christian ministry in the United States. The Alliance of Reformed Baptists of Canada ordained the very first woman to the ministry in Canada in the late 1800s. At General Conference in 1867, a resolution was adopted favoring the right of women to vote (as well as the right of freedmen—blacks). This was 44 years before the US constitution was amended to ensure women voting privileges.
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- Biblical authority
- Local church-centered
- Servant leadership
- Unity in diversity
In addition, they believe in the following articles of religion:
- Faith in the Holy Trinity
- This article states belief in one true God, united in three persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The Father
- This article emphasizes that God the Father created all things, and all humans are created in the image of God.
- This article also asserts that God loves people, seeks out, and receives penitent sinners.
- The Son of God
This article indicates the following beliefs:
- Jesus Christ is the Son of God
- Conceived by the Holy Spirit
- Born of the Virgin Mary
- Truly God and truly man
- He died on the cross and was buried
Note the assertion of Jesus' physical death prior to burial
- He was raised bodily from the dead
- He ascended into heaven
- He intercedes at the Father's right hand
- Until he returns
- to judge all humanity
- The Holy Spirit
This article asserts the Holy Spirit's role as paraclete, administering grace to all,
Note the assertion in particular in conviction of sin, in regeneration, in sanctification, and in glorification.
- The sufficiency and full authority of the Holy Scriptures for salvation
This article asserts the following beliefs:
- Sola scriptura
- The Bible has been transmitted to the present without corruption of any essential doctrine.
- Christ is the sole mediator between God and humanity
This directly negates Marian devotions, Intercession of saints, and Worship of angels
This also directly negates teaching of any other path to God through other religions
- This article explicitly lists the 66 books accepted as biblical canon by The Wesleyan Church
This is the same list traditionally accepted by the majority of Protestant denominations, and excludes deuterocanonical and apocryphal texts
- God's Purpose for Humanity
This article asserts that everyone should order their entire lives around what Jesus identified as the two greatest commandments (Matt. 22: 36 - 40):
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart (Deut. 6:5)
- Love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18)
- Marriage and the Family
- Reasserts that man is made in the image of God
- Asserts marriage as designed by God as a metaphor for God's relationship with His covenant people
- Asserts chastity before marriage, fidelity within marriage
- Asserts marriages only between one man and one woman
- Asserts marriage as the intended structure for bearing and raising children
- No indication is given in the article of any gender hierarchy in marriage
Rather, it is asserted that both partners submit themselves to the larger whole
- Personal Choice
- Asserts individual choice in making moral decisions. Thus asserts the Arminian belief in free will and opposes the Calvinist belief in predestination
- Asserts that free will also implies moral responsibility for the choices we make
- Asserts that after the fall, humans cannot choose right on their own. This view of total depravity is common to Arminian tradition
- Asserts that every person receives prevenient grace, allowing each to choose salvation
This Arminian doctrine that the individual chooses salvation is opposed to the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace
- The Atonement
- Asserts the Arminian view that Christ's crucifixion allows redemption for the whole world
This doctrine negates the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement
- Asserts the Protestant belief in solus Christus, that salvation is only found in Christ's death and resurrection
- Asserts that the atonement covers those who mentally cannot choose salvation
- Individuals who are mentally accountable must accept the gift of salvation of their own free will
- Asserts the Arminian view that Christ's crucifixion allows redemption for the whole world
- Repentance and Faith
- Affirms that salvation is by grace alone but must be accepted by the believer. Denies the Calvinist view of unconditional election.
- Affirms that repentance precedes saving faith
- Affirms that faith is the only condition for salvation. Directly negates any need for good works to attain salvation. Does not negate good works as evidence of salvation.
- Affirms that saving faith publicly acknowledges Christ as Lord
- Affirms that the saved will identify with the church
- Justification, Regeneration, and Adoption
- Asserts that when one repents and has saving faith in Christ, in that same moment that person is:
- Good Works
- Sin after Regeneration
- Affirms it is possible for a believer to sin after regeneration in salvation.
- Affirms there is grace and forgiveness for repentant believers.
- Initial- The work of the Holy Spirit in the moment of conversion in a new believer to be separated from sin to God.
- Progressive- The continual work of the Holy Spirit to grow the believer in love and more perfect obedience.
- Entire- The perfecting of the believer in love and empowerment for service. It follows in lifelong growth in grace and knowledge.
- The Gifts of the Spirit
- Asserts that the Holy Spirit gives gifts to people, for the benefit of the Church, but that the Holy Spirit himself is the most desirable gift.
- The Church
- The Christian Church is the entire body of believers (both living and those died and in heaven). Jesus Christ is the founder and only head of the Church. The Church is called to preach the Word of God, administer the sacraments, and live in obedience to Christ. A local church is a body of believers formally organized for the purposes of evangelism, discipleship, and worship. The Wesleyan Church is a denomination within the greater Church.
- The Sacraments
- Baptism is a sacrament commanded by our Lord and administered to believers. It works as a symbol and as part of the new covenant of grace.
- The Lord's Supper
- the Lord's Supper is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death, our hope in his return, and a sign of Christian love for one another.
- The Second Coming of Christ
- The Resurrection of the Dead
- The judgment of All Persons
- Asserts that Scripture teaches there is life after death, and the fate of each person is determined by God's grace and their individual response, evidenced through moral character rather than arbitrary decree of God. Heaven and Christ's presence is the place for those who choose God's salvation given through Christ, but hell and separation from Christ is the resulting place for those who neglect the great salvation.
Organizations and relations
Local churches are organized into a network of districts with equal representation of clergy and laity at their annual conferences. Each has an elected administrator known as the district superintendent and has a district board of administration with both lay and clergy serving. National and multi-national networks are called general conferences with strong national leadership and meet every four years. The North American General Conference has one General Superintendent, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon. An ordained Wesleyan minister, Dr. Lyon is the founder of World Hope International, the official Christian relief and development partner of The Wesleyan Church.
Currently, general conferences exist in the Philippines, the Caribbean, and North America, though The Wesleyan Church has recently begun a process of "internationalization" in which areas and regions of the world have the opportunity to form their own general conferences. Though it is too early to predict which general conferences will be formed in the coming years, the eventual shift is inevitable. The overarching goal of the internationalization process is to create a global network of partnership and not a "top-down" leadership structure within the worldwide church.
Official names by region
According to the 2012 Wesleyan Church Discipline, the official name of the denomination is The Wesleyan Church. However, different names may be used by different units of the church for practicality and localization. The following are the official names of the denomination, for the various organizational units:
- Australia: The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia
- Bougainville: The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Bougainville
- Brazil: Igreja Evangélica Wesleyana
- British Isles: The Wesleyan Holiness Church
- Cambodia: 'The Wesleyan Church of Cambodia'
- Caribbean: The Wesleyan Holiness Church of the Caribbean
- Chile: Ministerio Evangelistico y Misionero “Cristo es la Unica Respuesta”
- Colombia: La Iglesia Wesleyana de Colombia
- Costa Rica: Iglesia Wesleyana Internacional de Costa Rica
- Egypt: The Standard Wesleyan Church
- Ghana: The Standard Wesleyan Church
- Guyana: The Wesleyan Church
- Haiti: L’Eglise Wesleyenne d’Haiti
- Honduras: Mision Methodista Sión
- India, Central: The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Central India
- India, East: The Wesleyan Methodist Church of East India
- India, Western: The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Western India
- Indonesia: Gereja Wesleyan Indonesia (GWI)
- Liberia: The Wesleyan Church of Liberia
- Mexico: Iglesia Metodista de Mexico
- Mozambique: Igreja Emmanuel Evangelica Wesleyana
- Myanmar: The Wesleyan Methodist Church
- New Zealand: Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand
- Nicaragua: Asociación Mundial de Iglesias Wesleyanas de Nicaragua
- Pakistan: The Wesleyan Church in Pakistan
- Panamá: Iglesia Cristiana Wesleyana de Panamá
- Peru: Iglesia Wesleyana Peregrina
- Philippines: The Wesleyan Church of the Philippines
- Puerto Rico: Iglesia Evangélica Wesleyana
- Sierra Leone: The Wesleyan Church of Sierra Leone
- South Korea: Jesus Korea Wesleyan Church
- South Africa: The Wesleyan Church of Southern Africa
- Suriname: De Wesleyaanse Gemeente
- Tonga: Free Wesleyan Church
- United States and Canada: The Wesleyan Church
- Venezuela: Iglesia Evangélica Wesleyana
- Zambia: Pilgrim Wesleyan Church of Zambia
- Zimbabwe: The Wesleyan Church
Sister denominations and fraternal relations
The Wesleyan Church is a part of the holiness movement, and as such, follows many of the same teachings as similar denominations that follow Wesleyan traditions. At times in its history, it has sought merger with both the Church of the Nazarene and the Free Methodist Church, both of which practice very similar doctrine.
The Wesleyan Church is a member of the following organizations:
Universities, colleges, and schools in the U.S. and Canada
- Kingswood University (New Brunswick)
- Houghton College (New York)
- Indiana Wesleyan University (Indiana)
- Oklahoma Wesleyan University (Oklahoma)
- Southern Wesleyan University (South Carolina)
- Wesleyan Education Center (High Point, North Carolina)
Wesleyan Publishing House
The Wesleyan Church runs its own publishing house located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Its mission is to "be a leader in communicating the message of holiness through the publication of quality resources for local churches and ministries around the world."
Districts within the United States and Canada
- Atlantic (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the US state of Maine)
- Central Canada (Central and Western Canada)
- Central New York
- East Michigan
- Eastern New York/New England
- Greater Ohio
- Indiana Central
- Indiana North
- Indiana South
- Mountain Plains (Colorado/Nebraska)
- North Carolina East
- North Carolina West
- North Michigan
- Northwest (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming)
- Pacific Southwest (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Hawaii)
- Shenandoah (Virginia and West Virginia)
- South Carolina
- South Coastal (Georgia, Alabama, and much of Mississippi)
- Tri-State (Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri)
- West Michigan
- Western New York
- Western Pennsylvania
- Keith Drury - prolific writer and Professor of Religion at Indiana Wesleyan University
- Donald W. Dayton - theologian and historian of American Evangelicalism, particularly holiness, Pentecostal, and Methodist groups.
- Joseph R. Dongell - Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, and author or co-author of books such as John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition and Why I Am not a Calvinist (co-authored with Jerry L. Walls).
- Ronald Enroth - Christian author and professor of Sociology at Westmont College, and graduate of Houghton College
- Ken Schenck - New Testament scholar, currently serving as dean of Wesley Seminary
- Everett Piper - President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University
- Richard Eckley - Professor of Theology at Houghton College
- Erik Lefebvre - goalkeeper for the Charlotte Eagles football team, formerly played for Houghton College
- Brandon Beachy - pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, Major League Baseball team, formerly played for Indiana Wesleyan University
- Rev. Adam Crooks - early Wesleyan Methodist minister, responsible for a number of early church plants in the denomination
- John C. Maxwell - prolific writer and former senior pastor at Skyline Church, currently serving as a member of Indiana Wesleyan University's board of trustees
- Rev. Orange Scott - president of the convention that formed the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion, which eventually became the Wesleyan Church
- Dan Seaborn - founder of the What Would Jesus Do movement, and frequent speaker at Promise Keepers rallies
- Neil MacBride - United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and magna cum laude graduate of Houghton College
- Kurt Bahr - State Representative, Missouri District 102, and magna cum laude graduate of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
- Ken Buck - US House of Representatives, Colorado District 4.
Scientists and inventors
- Ira Sprague Bowen - United States astronomer, and alumnus of Houghton College; discovered the true nature of nebulium
- Douglas Comer - writer and professor and graduate of Houghton College involved in early development of the internet
- Thomas Bramwell Welch - developed a pasteurization process to prevent grapes from fermenting, thus creating grape juice instead of wine
Singers and musicians
- Wilfred Conwell Bain - University level music school administrator and opera theater director, former head of music departments at both Southern Wesleyan University and Houghton College
- Dr. Eric Nelson - American music clinician, conductor, and composer, and graduate of Houghton College
- David Ott - American composer and former faculty member of Houghton College
- George Beverly Shea - acclaimed singer and hymn composer who often performed with the Billy Graham crusades
- "Church Statistics". The Wesleyan Church. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
- Haines, Lee M; Thomas, Paul William (2000). "History of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of America, 1843–1968". An Outline History of the Wesleyan Church. Wesleyan Publishing House. p. 72. ISBN 0-89827-223-8.
- Peter Bush, "The Reverend James Caughey and Wesleyan Methodist Revivalism in Canada West, 1851–1856", Ontario History, Sept 1987, Vol. 79 Issue 3, pp 231-250
- An Outline History of the Wesleyan Church 5th revised edition, (2000) by L.M. and Thomas, P.W. Haines
- Caldwell, Wayne E. ed. Reformers and Revivals: History of the Wesleyan Church. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wesley Press, 1992
- "Our Core Values and Beliefs". www.wesleyan.org. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
- "The Discipline of the Wesleyan Church 2004" (PDF). The Wesleyan Publishing House. 2005. Retrieved 2010-01-30., p. 80
- "About Us: The Wesleyan Publishing House". The Wesleyan Church. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
- "Districts of the Wesleyan Church". The Wesleyan Church. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
- "Brandon Beachy Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights | braves.com: Team". Braves.com: Team." The Official Site of The Atlanta Braves. Braves.com: Homepage. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- Official website of the Wesleyan Church
- Official website of the Wesleyan Church in New Zealand
- Official website of the Grace Fellowship Churches in New Zealand
- Wesleyan Publishing House
- Methodist History Bookmarks
- Wesleyan Methodist Church: - Association of Religion Data Archives