Methodists are heirs to the renewal ministry of John Wesley, an 18th century priest in the Church of England. While he was heir to the catholic (universal) tradition of the church, his was a distinctive ministry that involved a “method” for personal and social holiness. Wesley established a network or “connection” of local societies and small groups that sustained a vibrant Christian revival in England and eventually led to the founding of the Methodist Church.
John Wesley believed that the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ could and should make a difference in the world. His urgent, evangelical message to early Methodist preachers was: “Spread Scriptural holiness over these lands.” At heart, it was a missionary movement, spreading the gospel not only for conversion of hearts, but also for the healing of the nation.
Methodists – both pastors and lay people – must study the scriptures in order to interpret them. In fact, every time we open the Bible to read the scriptures, seeking understanding for today, we are involved in the church’s theological work. It is the task of drawing out truth for Christians today, in today’s circumstances, facing today’s reality. We must decide how our sacred scriptures and the time-honoured doctrines of the church can relate to our contemporary scene.