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In 1784, Wesley responded to the shortage of priests in the American colonies due to the American Revolutionary War by ordaining preachers for America with power to administer the sacraments.

It originated as a revival within the 18th century Church of England and became a separate denomination after Wesley's death.

The movement spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, and beyond because of vigorous missionary work, Wesley's theology focused on sanctification and the effect of faith on the character of a Christian.

At a Moravian service in Aldersgate on , John experienced what has come to be called his evangelical conversion, when he felt his "heart strangely warmed".

He records in his journal: "I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." Charles had reported a similar experience a few days previously. Burnett writes: "The significance of [John] Wesley's Aldersgate Experience is monumental …

Wesley and his assistant preachers organised the new converts into Methodist societies.

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.

George Whitefield's preference for extemporaneous prayer rather than the fixed forms of prayer in the BCP, in addition to his insistence on the necessity of the New Birth, set him at odds with Anglican clergy.

As Methodist societies multiplied, and elements of an ecclesiastical system were, one after another, adopted, the breach between John Wesley and the Church of England gradually widened.

Unsuccessful in their work, the brothers returned to England conscious of their lack of genuine Christian faith.

They looked for help to Peter Boehler and other members of the Moravian Church.

They also took part in love feasts which allowed for the sharing of testimony, a key feature of early Methodism.