John Wesley and his brother, Charles Wesley, are widely thought to be the founders of the Methodist church, though the influence of George Whitfield is also incorporated as vital to the beginning of the Methodist church. The Wesleys primarily preached in England, while Whitfield began in England and brought his preaching to America.
The Methodist church is a branch of the Protestant Christian religion. In 1739, John Wesley began a new teaching and preaching style in England. While studying at Oxford, John and his brother Charles formed a student group devoted to study, prayer and helping the underprivileged. They were labeled "Methodist" because of the "methods" they used to practice their faith. By 1744, a group of Methodists held its first conference as a separate religious branch.
Church of England minister George Whitefield (1714-1770) was also one of the leaders of the Methodist movement, though he and John Wesley disagreed over the question of predestination, as it was expounded by John Calvin. Whitefield became a famous preacher in America's Great Awakening movement. There were divisions of Methodists into different branches. In 1933, three of the American branches of Methodists united and in 1968 added another branch, with all of those branches coming under the name, the "United Methodist Church."