The Group began informally in 1929 when 18 friends among the students at Cambridge met, in an 'atmosphere of freedom and comradeship' and against the background of declining Christian allegiance among young people, to prepare for Methodist Union. They were encouraged by W.H. Beales, minister of Wesley Church and were also much influenced by W.R. Maltby. Their manifesto A Group Speaks was published in 1931, followed by a series of 'Cambridge Group Manuals'. There was a similar group at *Oxford called the John Wesley Society. A number of lay and ministerial figures prominent in Methodism since 1932, including the scientist C.A. Coulson, were influenced by these groups and 'MethSoc' groups were formed at other universities.