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What is a Wesleyan?

What's a Wesleyan?

It's probably one of the most-asked questions that Wesleyans hear. People have heard of Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Methodists; they may even recognize the name John Wesley, but what, exactly, is a Wesleyan?


The Wesleyan Church is an evangelical, Protestant denomination. We offer the good news that faith in Jesus Christ makes it possible to receive forgiveness and enter into a personal relationship with God. Our name is in honor of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, whose emphasis on a life of faith, self-discipline, and love is our example.

It was never Wesley’s intention to generate a following, found a church or establish a denomination, but the awakening he led began to spawn “societies” which grew to become the Methodist movement. The revival spread to America where Methodist immigrants began forming societies in the colonies and eventually organized The Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784. Circuit riding preachers, using John Wesley as their example, began taking the Gospel from village to village and the new church experienced phenomenal growth.

Early American Methodism was faithful to Wesley’s emphasis on doctrine and Christian conduct. But when Methodism took root in the south, many of her members were or became slaveholders. In 1843, many Methodists opposed to slavery organized an association of annual conferences that would later give birth to The Wesleyan Methodist Church.

The Wesleyan Church came into being in 1968 through a merger of the Pilgrim Holiness Church and the Wesleyan Methodist Church, two bodies very similar in doctrine, government and purpose.


The Iowa-Minnesota District consists of 36 churches spread across our two-state area. Five of those churches have been started in the past 4 years. Our district office is located in Charles City, IA. We also own and operate Cedar Springs Camp (, a 117-acre camp and retreat center located along the Cedar River, just north of Floyd, IA. World headquarters are located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Wesleyan Church has 1,714 churches in North America and 4,255 churches worldwide. On a typical Sunday morning 364,755 people around the world will worship in a Wesleyan Church (195,203 in North America).


The following are terms descriptive of who Wesleyans are and why we do what we do. They describe the "soul" of the church. They are the core values because they are at the center, as primary motivations for all that we do.

BIBLICAL AUTHORITY: The Bible is the highest source of written authority for God's plan for His people; it reveals how to live out that plan, individually and corporately. Beliefs, practices, and priorities are to be anchored in clear biblical teachings.

CHRISTLIKENESS: Jesus Christ is the defining feature of God's will for all humankind. In Christ is found the highest and most practical meaning and clearest example for holy living or godliness. Christ is both example and strength as Wesleyans pursue integrity, excellence, faith, hope, and love.

DISCIPLE-MAKING: Making disciples is a clear mandate from Christ. This requires a strong focus on evangelism and training in spiritual growth and holy living. Done effectively, this will produce and promote growth and health in and among the churches.

LOCAL CHURCH CENTERED: The denomination exists to serve local congregations. Local churches are the most fundamental and strategic points of evangelism and discipleship. The challenge of the denomination is to keep finding the best ways to serve and strengthen congregations.

SERVANT LEADERSHIP: Wesleyans respect leadership that is placed over them, while realizing that the authority and effectiveness of spiritual leadership is not primarily bestowed, but earned and manifested by a loving and willing heart of obedience that serves God and humankind gladly. Wesleyans desire to be leaders in serving.

UNITY IN DIVERSITY: There is intrinsic value in every person. Unity becomes all the more important and beautiful in light of the wide range of difference in personality, culture, race, talents, and perspectives. Loving each other eliminates devaluation and deprivation of life to one another.

CULTURAL RELEVANCE: Wesleyans are called to keep serving the present age. The Church respects and builds on its past without becoming its slave. Wesleyans are "culture informed" for the sake of reaching people for Christ, but not "culture captives" in the sense of surrendering core values, beliefs, and behaviors.

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