The Holy Club


John Wesley and friends at OxfordCharles and John were both students at Oxford (at Christ Church), and in 1726 John was elected as Fellow of Lincoln College.

Charles, who had been a bit of a lad at the start of his university career, became more serious about his faith, and started a small group nicknamed 'the Holy Club', which met for prayer and Bible study. Later, John became a leading light in the group and in particular stressed the need for combining a deep inward faith with practical service to those in need.

'Diligence led me into serious thinking. I went to the weekly Sacrament and persuaded two 
or three young scholars to accompany me, and to observe the method of study prescribed by the Statutes of the University. This gained me the harmless name of Methodist.' 

Charles Wesley, letter written in later life.

The scholars used to go into the town and the local prison to do charitable work and visit the sick. Other students had a variety of mocking nicknames for the group, including 'Bible Moths', 'Enthusiasts' and 'Supererogationists' (because they did more than most people thought was necessary to be a good Christian), but the one that stuck was 'Methodists.'

It was in the Holy Club that the Wesley brothers met George Whitefield, who became an important part of the Methodist movement.

  • Sign up for e-newslettersKeep in touch with what interests you