Beginning with its inception in the late 18th century, the Methodist Church has a long history of missions targeting the impoverished. These missions are embedded in the theology of Methodism, which calls on the long tradition in Christianity of reverence for Christ’s own poverty. Members of the Methodist Church have historically carried out a variety of social welfare measures on local, national, and global levels.

John Wesley, the founding father of Methodism, preached almost continuously from 1725 until his death in 1791. By the 1740s, Wesley had articulated his General Rules of the Methodist faith; one of these rules instructed believers to do as much good as possible, especially helping the poor.

Methodism was popular in colonial and early-modern America. Reports of “Love Feasts” from the 18th ...

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