John Wesley's Holy Club, 1729



John Wesley was delighted to return to Oxford after his almost two-year adventure as his father’s curate at Wroote. When he arrived at the University he found that his brother Charles and another student had begun to meet regularly to pray and go to church services. John joined them and soon others began to join. They would meet on Sunday afternoons to pray, study the Bible, hold each other accountable for their Christian walk, and do good deeds. They would take Holy Communion wherever it was offered in the community. Soon other more “normal” students took notice of this group of serious students. They called them names like the “Godly Club,” the “Reform Club,” “Bible Moths,” “Sacramentarians,” “Enthusiasts,” and many other names, but the titles that stuck to the group were the “Holy Club” and “Methodists.” The term “Methodist” was actually a medical term for doctors who thought they could cure all sorts of sickness by a special method of diet and exercise. When these young men at Oxford began to live in their methodical way in order to obtain inner holiness, somebody remarked, “Here is a new set of Methodists sprung up.” And so the name stuck to them as a term of abuse. Later they came to accept it as a title of honor.