Society (Methodist)

John Wesley frequented several of the religious societies in London, including that at Fetter Lane and had had the experience of leading the Holy Club and a group which met in the Savannah parsonage. The New Room, BristolNew Room was built to house two such societies in Bristol in 1739 and a London society was formed at the Foundery when John Wesley left Fetter Lane in July 1740 with 18 or 19 members and 48 women adherents. As field preaching brought in numbers of 'seekers', Wesley realized that the 'society' provided a framework for the support, discipline and nurture which they needed and a network of 'United Societies' developed. Being 'in connexion' with him, an Anglican clergyman, their meetings were protected from prosecution as illegal conventicles. Each society was in the care of one of the itinerants, who received into membership those who had satisfactorily completed a period on trial and each was divided into classes under a Class Leader. Societies were soon grouped into circuits, each in the charge of anAssistant. This pattern was to be repeated in all the branches of Methodism.

  • R.E. Davies, ed. The Societies, Works of John Wesley (Bicentennial Edition), (Nashville, 1989), vol. 9