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Methodists, doctrine and polity of Protestant churches that originated in the 18th-century evangelical revival led by John and Charles Wesley. The name Methodist was first used in 1729 for members of the “Holy Club” of Oxford University, led by the Wesleys, who lived “by rule and method.” Influenced by the Moravian Church, Methodism began as an evangelical movement in 1738 when the Wesleys and George Whitefield began preaching. Banned from most Anglican pulpits, they preached in the open air and drew vast crowds. After Wesley's death in 1791, Methodist societies formally separated from the Church of England and became the Wesleyan Methodist Church. The American Methodist movement was established after 1771 by Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke. Methodist polity in Britain is in effect Presbyterian; in the United States it is Episcopal. Methodism traditionally stresses conversion, holiness, and social welfare.

See also: Protestantism; Wesley.

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