John and Charles Wesley, Priests, 1791, 1788
Lord God, you inspired your servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls and endowed them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle such fervor in your church, we entreat you, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known Christ may turn to him and be saved; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Wesley brothers, John born in 1703 and Charles in 1707, were leaders of the evangelical revival in the Church of England in the eighteenth century. They both attended Oxford University, and there they gathered a few friends with whom they undertook a strict adherence to the worship and discipline of the Book of Common Prayer, from which strict observance they received the nickname, "Methodists." Having been ordained, they went to the American colony of Georgia in 1735, John as a missionary and Charles as secretary to Governor Oglethorpe. They found the experience disheartening, and returned home in a few years. There, three days apart, they underwent a conversion experience. John, present with a group of Moravians who were reading Martin Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, received a strong emotional awareness of the love of Christ displayed in freely forgiving his sins and granting him eternal life.
Following this experience, John and Charles, with others, set about to stir up in others a like awareness of and response to the saving love of God. Of the two, John was the more powerful preacher, and averaged 8000 miles of travel a year, mostly on horseback. At the time of his death he was probably the best known and best loved man in England.
It was the intention of the Wesleys and their colleagues that their "Methodist Societies" should be a group within the existing structure of the Anglican Church, but after their deaths the Societies in America, and to a lesser extent in England, developed a separate status. Charles Wesley died 29 March 1788. John Wesley died 2 March 1791. The Wesleys are remembered on 3 March.*
The Lectionary, James Kiefer, http://www.satucket.com/lectionary/Wesley.htm (modified)