Wesley Breaks from Church of England
The 28th of February 1784 AD
John Wesley never considered that he and his Methodist followers had left the Church of England, but in 1784 a de facto split emerged thanks to the need to prepare for Methodism without the ageing John Wesley , and in reaction to the state of affairs as regards the provision of Church of England priests in America.
On February 28 1784 Wesley drew up his Deed of Declaration, a legal document subsequently lodged with the Court of Chancery in London . This formalised a structure for the previously informal conference guiding the Methodist movement. What was to become known as The Legal Hundred, 100 senior preachers selected by Wesley, would be the decision-making body for the group.
In 1784 Wesley was an octogenarian, well past the normal life-span for the times; he was preparing his succession. He was also preparing the way for the ordination of preachers to work in America, where since independence had been won the Church of England had refused to provide ordained ministers, leading to a shortage of such figures in the United States. Wesley was not a bishop; he had no authority with the Church of England to ordain ministers. It was thus inevitable that a schism would arise.
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