The Holy Club was one of the many nicknames used for the group of young men, including the Wesley brothers, who met together in Oxford, from as early as 1729.
Other similarly derisive names included, the Bible Moths, Supererogation men and eventually Methodists. Never an intentional or official society, it was this group which John Wesley would later describe as the ‘first rise of Methodism’.
It began with the young undergraduates, Charles Wesley and William Morgan. Responding to University pressure to take their faith and work more seriously, they began to support each other in both their studies and religious practice. John had encouraged this by letter whilst at home in Epworth and, returning to Oxford in the summer of 1729, effectively took charge of what was a small but growing group.
Encouraged by John’s presence they met to study and pray together, they attended the Sacrament regularly and began to keep spiritual diaries. In the late winter of the same year they were joined by Bob Kirkham, a friend of Wesley’s from earlier years.
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Soon they also began to engage in social action, visiting prisoners, helping the poor and providing education for children.
Influence on later Methodism
Sources of information