The Methodist movement started in the 1700’s under the leadership of brothers John and Charles Wesley, both of whom were Anglican priests. Initially, their intention was not to start a new denomination — they wanted to bring new life to the Anglican Church.
In May 1738, John’s heart was deeply moved at a prayer meeting on Aldersgate Street in London which ignited his vision to lead a lively renewal movement in the Church of England alongside his brother Charles. The Methodist movement grew, and their ministry would spread to the American colonies as some Methodists traveled the dangerous voyage to the New World across the Atlantic Ocean.
Organized Methodism in America began as a lay movement as an outreach with the hands of compassionate leaders organizing ways to help the young settlers move forward in their faith while making their transition into new homes. These leaders included Robert Strawbridge, an immigrant farmer, who organized work about 1760 in Maryland and Virginia, Philip Embury and his cousin, Barbara Heck, who began work in New York in 1766, and Captain Thomas Webb, whose leadership ignited outreach in Philadelphia in 1767.
In December 1784, a gathering of preachers was held in Baltimore to establish the future vision and steps for the Methodist movement in America. It was at this gathering that the movement became organized as The Methodist Episcopal Church in America.
Two other churches formed from its Methodist roots: in 1800 the Church of the United Brethren in Christ was officially organized. A second church, The Evangelical Association, was established in 1803. These two churches united with each other in 1946, and together with The Methodist Church in 1968, they formed The United Methodist Church.
United Methodism is characterized by connectionalism. Each local church is part of a charge conference, which is part of a district. White Haven UMC is part of the Northeast District. The district is part of a conference. White Haven UMC is part of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. The conference is part of a Jurisdiction. White Haven UMC is part of the Northeastern Jurisdiction.
Although we have a Bishop, decisions are made at the conference level at Annual Conferences and at the global level at General Conference, which is held every four years. At the annual conference level, resolutions are voted on by clergy and an equal number of lay delegates.
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