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The Methodist revival originated in Epworth, North Lincolnshire, England.

It began with
a group of men, including John Wesley and his younger brother Charles, as a movement
within the Church of England in the 18th century. The movement focused on Bible study
and a methodical approach to scriptures and Christian living. The name "methodist" was
a pejorative name given to a small society of students at Oxford who met together
between 1729 and 1735 for the purpose of mutual improvement, given because of their
methodist habits. They were accustomed to receiving communion every week, fasting
regularly, and abstaining from most forms of amusement and luxury. They also
frequently visited the sick and the poor, as well as prisoners.

The early Methodists acted against perceived apathy in the Church of England, preaching
in the open air and establishing Methodist societies wherever they went. These societies
were divided into groups called classes — intimate meetings where individuals were
encouraged to confess their sins to one another and to build each other up. They also took
part in love feasts which allowed for the sharing of testimony, a key feature of early

Methodist preachers were notorious for their enthusiastic sermons and often accused of
fanaticism. In those days, many members of England's established church feared that new
doctrines promulgated by the Methodists, such as the necessity of a new birth for
salvation, of justification by faith, and of the constant and sustained action of the Holy
Spirit upon the believer's soul, would produce ill effects upon weak minds. Theophilus
Evans, an early critic of the movement, even wrote that it was "the natural Tendency of
their Behaviour, in Voice and Gesture and horrid Expressions, to make People mad." In
one of his prints, William Hogarth likewise attacked Methodists as "enthusiasts" full of
"Credulity, Superstition and Fanaticism." But the Methodists resisted the many attacks
against their movement.

John Wesley came under the influence of the Moravians, and of the Dutch theologian
Jacobus Arminius, while Whitefield adopted Calvinistic views. Consequently, their
followers separated, those of Whitefield becoming Calvinistic Methodists. Wesleyan
Methodists have followed Arminian theology.

Our History and Heritage

The Beginnings
It is generally accepted that the founders of the Methodist movement were John and
Charles Wesley. John Wesley (1703-91) and his brother Charles (1707-88) were part of
a large family, and were born in Epworth, Lincolnshire, where their father was a vicar.
Their parents, Samuel and Susanna Wesley, both came of Puritan stock, but had moved
to High Church beliefs: influences from both traditions may be found in their sons.

Both John and Charles went to Oxford University. John became Fellow of Lincoln
College in 1726, and was ordained a priest in the Church of England (Anglican Church)
in 1728. Charles, still a student began to meet with a group of friends for reading and
religious study. John became involved as the group's senior member, and its activities
expanded to include charitable work among the poor and the imprisoned. Their concern
for disciplined spirituality earned them the nickname "The Holy Club" or "Methodists"
for their methodical approach.

John Wesley's quest for holiness and peace with God took him to the new colony of
Georgia, in 1735, to work among the settlers and the Native Americans. After a
disappointing ministry in Georgia he returned to England three (3) years later, but during
his time there he made contact with a group of Moravian Christians whose vibrant faith
and assurance made a deep impression on him.

Religious renewal was to spread in Britain in the late 1730's, sometimes in churches,
sometimes through open air preaching, often through voluntary religious societies like
the Oxford Methodists. The Wesleys were drawn into this movement, and in May 1738
both experienced a sense of assurance of God's love for them. The following year they
joined the ranks of those clergy and lay people who were preaching the Gospel in the
open air.

The Wesley's Methodism was only one element in the eighteenth century Revival, and
there were tensions within other groups over theology and organization. Gradually John
Wesley built up a network ("Connexion") of preachers and groups bound together by
shared beliefs, a common structure and loyalty to him. Although property was acquired
for Methodist services, the movement remained a voluntary organization within the
Church of England, and calls for separation were firmly resisted. The Methodists were
expected to attend services in their parish church, as well as the meetings of the
Methodist ‘societies'. As the societies grew they were subdivided in to groups called
‘classes' which were made up of up to a twelve (12) members for pastoral oversight.

John Wesley's long lifetime saw Methodism evolve slowly into a movement with a
distinctive organization and ethos. The movement was dominated by Wesley, who
determined its structure and defined its doctrine through several volumes of published
sermons and Notes on the New Testament. The preachers some ordained and laymen,
appointed by Wesley were summoned to meet with him at the annual Conference. The
preachers were assigned to different areas of the country to work and they travelled
round their ‘circuit' of Methodist societies, administered by stewards and had their own
preaching houses. As Wesley grew older, the personal ‘connexion' was given legal
identity, as power after his death was vested in the Conference and limited to one
hundred named preachers.

As may be imagined, this developing structure did not sit comfortably within the
established patterns of the Church of England. Bishops disapproved of Wesley's
freelance activities, local incumbents resented the invasion of their parishes by Methodist
preachers, and pressure was built up within Methodism for greater independence.
There was no formal breach during Wesley's lifetime, although some of his actions, like
ordaining people for service in America (1794), allowing Methodist services to take
place at the same time as services in the parish Church, and registering Methodist
property under the Conventicle Act (1788) pointed to a separation. The disengagement
of Methodism from the Church of England took place in the decades after Wesley's death
(1791), but the speed of separation depended considerably on local conditions.

After 1791 the leadership of Methodism was placed in the Conference and a scheme for a
Methodist episcopate (bishops) was rejected in favour of an annually elected President.
Tensions over theology, church government, mission strategy and personalities led to a
whole series of splits in the movement over the next sixty years. A bewildering number
of Methodist groups came into being, emphasizing different parts of the Wesleyan
heritage. From the late nineteenth century onwards most of the groups re-united, with
the three largest blocs coming together on 1932. Differences in emphases, represented
by various uniting strands, still appear in Methodism.

From its history, Methodism inherited a Connexional structure rather than a

congregational one. Congregations are not autonomous and cannot act without regard to
the rest of the Connexion.

Methodism in the Caribbean

It is generally accepted that Methodism came to the Caribbean in 1760 when a planter
from Antigua, named Nathaniel Gilbert. Gilbert was a lawyer, the owner of two sugar
estates returned to Antigua and the Speaker of the Antiguan House of Assembly. He
was, prior to his religious experience, very suspicious of and averse to anything that
savoured of "enthusiasm".

Sometime in 1755, Nathaniel Gilbert was sill and sent his daughter Mary, who was five
years old to fetch a certain book from another room. While we do not know what book he
wanted, the book that Mary brought to him was a treatise of John Wesley, "An Appeal to
men of Reason and Religion." This had been sent to him by his brother Francis and was
in fact not the book he had wanted at the time. However, with time on his hands, the ill
Nathaniel Gilbert read it and was never the same man again.

As a result of this Gilbert two years latter journeyed to England, with three of his slaves.
A drawing room meeting was arranged in Wandsworth on January 15, 1759, with John
Wesley as the preacher. Nathaniel Gilbert and two of his slaves were converted. He
returned to the West Indies in 1759. With his return Gilbert began to preach to his slaves
in Antigua.

When Gilbert died in 1774 and the work was continued for a year by Francis Gilbert, the
brother of Nathaniel Gilbert. But Francis had to return to England owing to ill health. At
that time there was approximately 200 Methodists in Antigua. The work was, however,
carried on by "a Negress and a Mulatto", Sophia Campbell and Mary Alley. These
devoted women kept the flock together by carrying on Class Meetings and Prayer
meetings as best as they could.
On April 2, 1778, John Baxter landed at English harbour in Antigua. He was a skilled
shipwright from Chatham in England. He was offered a post at the naval dockyard at
English Harbour (now called Nelson's Dockyard). Baxter was a Methodist Local
Preacher, and he had heard of the work of the Gilberts, and had heard of the flock that
was awaiting a new shepherd. When he arrived in Antigua he began preaching and
meeting the leaders of the island Methodists. Within a year the Methodist community
had grown to 600 persons. By 1783 the first Methodist Chapel was built in Antigua, with
John Baxter, as the local preacher. The chapel was a wooden structure and seated about
2,000 people.

In 1786 Rev. Dr. Thomas Coke, arrived (by providence) in Antigua. He was travelling to
Nova Scotia but his ship was blown off course. Coke was made Superintendent of the
Church in America by Wesley in 1784. It was in 1786 that the missionary endeavour to
Caribbean was officially recognized by the Conference in England.

In 1884 an attempt was made at autonomy with the formation of two West Indian
Conferences. However by 1903 the venture had failed. It was not until the 1960's that
another attempt was made at autonomy. This second attempt resulted in the emergence
of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA) in May 1967.

The MCCA has eight Districts and has its headquarters in Antigua. The eight Districts
are Bahamas/Turks and Caicos Islands, Belize/Honduras, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica,
Leeward Islands, Panama/Costa Rica and South Caribbean.

Up to 1996 the Conference of the MCCA met annually in May. In 1997 the MCCA
made some changes to its structure. The Conference was renamed the Connexional
Conference and now meets every three years. In between the meetings of the
Connexional Conference its executive body, the Connexional Council acts on its behalf.

Also in 1997 Districts were given greater responsibility to make decisions affecting their
work. Consequently the District Synod was renamed the District Conference, and the title
Chairman of the District is now called District President.

© 2009 Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas

Our Symbols
The Conference Badge

The Conference badge was designed by the Rev. Dr. Claude L. Cadogan
and has become the most recognizable symbol of the MCCA. It is used
on all official documents of the MCCA at the Connexional, District,
Circuit and Congregational levels. It has also been used on various
paraphernalia of the church. The composition of the badge proclaims the
understanding of the MCCA about itself.

The badge is made up of the following parts:

1. The CROSS CROSSLET - four Latin crosses on a common base pointing North,
South, East and West, indicate that the mission of the Church is in all directions.
The world is the field.
2. The Shield - per pale per chevron in its divisions - bears the ‘ancestral' shield of
Methodism on the top right with the top left in bleu celeste (sky blue) which is a
blend of the white (argent) and blue (azure) of the other sections.
3. The SUN - with the circle of eternity enclosing the IHS - Jesus - is the Sun of
Righteousness reflecting Malachi 4:2 (cf. also Wesley's hymns 117 and 924). Our
territories are the Lands of the Sun. He is risen upon us.
4. The WESLEY or METHODIST Shield, with its scallop shells of Pilgrimage,
holds our ‘ancestry'. We are of the Methodist family.
5. The FISHERMAN'S BOAT - or SHIP - symbol of the Church which sails even
on the troubled seas. This is appropriate for our AREA where there is so much
sea and the ‘fishers of men' must sail on the mission of the Church.
indicates our motivation and power. The test is centred in the Conference Hymn
written by the late Rev. Dr Hugh B. Sherlock, O.B.E.

Taken as a whole the Crest proclaims the message that "moved by the Love of
Christ constraining us, we sail as a Church under the aegis of Christ our Head, and
Methodism our heritage into the cardinal points of the world to fulfill our mission."
The Connexional President's Badge

The Connexional President's badge was designed by the Rev. Dr. Claude
L. Cadogan. It may be used on all official documents sent from the office
of the Connexional President and also appears on the stole of the
Connexional President. The composition of the crest tells the
understanding of the church about the office of the Connexional

The badge is made up of the following parts:

1. The CROSS FITCHEE - cross crosslet with the lower arm sharpened - is said to
have been used by the Crusaders who, in the journeys created their ‘chapels'
everywhere by simply sticking such a cross in a piece of ground, thereby
"hallowing" the spot for worship. Wherever the President goes, there is his
chapel for he belongs to the whole Area.
2. The SHIELD - per pale per chevron in its divisions - has top left section in colour
bleu celeste and top right in colour blue (azure) and lower section in purple.
3. The SUN and BOAT are from the Conference Badge to indicate Jesus Christ the
Head of the Church and the Church still sails to "fish for people" at His command.
4. The SHEPHERD'S STAFF and the GRAVEL under the CROSS are symbolic
of the President's Office as Shepherd of the Flock, and its Presiding Officer. He
works, glorifying the cross.

5. The MOTTO on the scroll - YOUR SERVANT FOR JESUS' SAKE - from 2
Corinthians 4:5 indicates the role of the President in the Conference and the
© 2009 Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas
The doctrinal standards of the MCCA are enshrined in our Constitution and Discipline. It
states that:

(1) The doctrinal standards of the Church are:

The Methodist Church claims and cherishes its place in the Holy Catholic Church which
is the Body of Christ. It rejoices in the inheritance of the Apostolic Faith and loyally
accepts the fundamental principles of the historic creeds and of the Protestant
Reformation. It ever remembers that in the Providence of God Methodism was raised up
to spread Scriptural Holiness through the land by the proclamationof the Evangelical
Faith and declares its unfaltering resolve to be true to its Divinely appointed mission.

The Doctrines of the Evangelical faith that Methodism has held from the beginning and
still holds are based upon the Divine revelation recorded in the Holy Scriptures. The
Methodist Church acknowledges this revelation as the supreme rule of faith and practice.
These Evangelical Doctrines to which the Preachers of the Methodist Church both
Ministers and Lay persons are pledged are contained in Wesley's Notes on the New
Testament and the first four volumes of the sermons.

The Notes on the New Testament and the Forty-four Sermons are not intended to impose
a system of formal or speculative theology on Methodist Preachers, but to set up
standards of preaching and belief which should secure loyalty to the fundamental truths
of the Gospel of Redemption and ensure the continued witness of the Church to the
realities of the Christian experience of salvation.

Christ's Ministers in the Church are stewards in the household of God and Shepherds of
His flock. Some are called and ordained to this sole occupation and have a principal and
directing part in these duties but they hold no priesthood differing in kind from that
which is common to the Lord's people and they have no exclusive title to the preaching of
the gospel or the care of souls. These ministries are shared with them by others to whom
also the Spirit divides His gifts severally as He wills.

It is the universal conviction of the Methodist people that the office of the Christian
Ministry depends upon the call of God who bestows the gifts of the Spirit, the grace and
the fruit which indicate those whom He has chosen.

Those whom the Methodist Church recognises as called by God and therefore receives
into its Ministry shall be ordained by the imposition of hands as expressive of the
Church’s recognition of the Minister's personal call.

The Methodist Church holds the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and
consequently believes that no priesthood exists which belongs exclusively to a particular
order or class of persons but in the exercise of its corporate life and worship special
qualifications for the discharge of special duties are required and thus the principle of
representative selection is recognised.

The Preachers, itinerant and lay, are examined, tested and approved before they are
authorised to minister in holy things. For the sake of Church Order and not because of
any priestly virtue inherent in the office, the Ministers of the Methodist Church are set
apart by ordination to the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments.

The Methodist Church recognises two sacraments, namely Baptism and the Lord's
Supper, as of Divine Appointment and of perpetual obligation of which it is the privilege
and duty of members of the Methodist Church to avail themselves.

(2) The Doctrinal Standards shall be unalterable, whether by the Connexional Conference
or otherwise.

(3) The Connexional Conference shall be the final authority within the Church on all
questions concerning the interpretation of the Doctrinal Standards.

(4) The foregoing provisions of this clause shall not limit or otherwise affect the powers
of the Church to unite with other churches in accordance with the provisions of this Deed
notwithstanding that the doctrinal standards of any united church formed under such
powers may differ from the Doctrinal Standards.
© 2009 Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas