John Wesley's Holy Club



John and Charles Wesley were students at Christ Church College, a part of Oxford University. John became a teacher at Lincoln College, which was also a part of Oxford. John left for a few months to help his father who was pastor of St. Andrews Church up at Epworth.  While John was gone, Charles started a small gathering of fellow students who met for prayer each week.  Some say it was really only one other student and they would simply go to worship together.  When John returned to Oxford he took over the leadership of this group which began to meet more often for prayer, Bible study, mutual accountability and good works. They would go for Holy Communion wherever they could. Soon they were meeting every day for several hours.  The other students laughed at these serious students and called them names such as “Bible moths,” “Holy Guys,” “The  Holy Club,” “Sacramentarians” (because they wanted Holy Communion so often), and other names. They called them “Methodists” because they had a method about their lives.

The Methodist Club caused a lot of talk on campus. They were admired by some and laughed at by many. One of their members died and some thought his death was due to the fasting, etc. encouraged by the Methodist group. The club was never very large and there were never more than about 20 members at any one time.

John’s father, Samuel, Sr., asked John to come back up to Epworth and help him.  This time John wrote back that he needed to stay at Oxford because it was better for his soul to do so. The Methodist Club was the reason.  He needed the support and encouragement of these friends which he would not have at Epworth.

The ideas behind the “Methodist Club” became the foundation for the Methodist movement which encouraged “Methodist Societies” within local churches.