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John Wesley

Early Life

Wesley was ordained a deacon in the Church of England in 1725, elected a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1726, and ordained a priest in 1728. At Oxford he took the lead (1729) in a group of students that included his younger brother, Charles Wesley, and George Whitefield. They were derisively called "methodists" for their methodical devotion to study and religious duties.

In 1735, the Wesleys accompanied James Oglethorpe to Georgia, John to serve there as a missionary and Charles to act as secretary to Oglethorpe. During John Wesley's two-year stay in the colony he was deeply influenced by Moravian missionaries; upon his return to England he made many Moravian friends. On May 24, 1738, at a meeting of a small religious society in Aldersgate St., London, Wesley experienced a religious conversion while listening to a reading of Martin Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. This experience of salvation through faith in Christ alone was the burden of his message for the rest of his life.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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