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Methodism is an evangelical movement within Protestant Christianity, encompassing various denominations. The Methodist movement traces its origin to the evangelistic teachings of John Wesley, who was an Anglican priest. It originated in 18th century Great Britain, and through vigorous missionary activity, spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, and beyond. Originally it appealed especially to workers, agricultural workers, and slaves. Soteriologically, most Methodists are Arminian or on rare occasions moderately Calvinist, emphasizing that Christ accomplished salvation for every human being, and that humans must exercise an act of the will to receive it (as opposed to the traditional Calvinist doctrine of monergism). Methodism is traditionally low church in liturgy, although this varies greatly between individual congregations; the Wesleys themselves greatly valued the Anglican liturgy and tradition. There are also a number of Calvinistic Methodists in Wales. An estimated 75 million people worldwide belong to the Methodist community.

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Sanctuary interior viewed from the balcony
Towson United Methodist Church is a large United Methodist Church in the historic Baltimore County, Maryland suburb of Towson. Its past, rooted in 19th century America, and subsequent growth in the two centuries since then, have closely paralleled the nation's political and sociological trends. It was a congregation split asunder in 1861 on the eve of the American Civil War in a border state of divided loyalties, which eventually reunited and built a church in the post-World War II era of the 1950s, a time of reconciliation and rapid growth by mainline Protestant denominations, especially in the more affluent suburbs.

The 1,200-member church, currently pastored by Rev. Roderick Miller, has a number of community outreach programs, including an accredited child care center and a Boy Scout troop, and actively supports a home for unwed mothers, overseas missions, and Habitat for Humanity projects. The congregation worships in a 1,000-seat sanctuary built in 1958. The large building's prominent spire is a landmark visible for miles from the nearby Baltimore Beltway (Interstate 695). Towson United Methodist Church is located on Hampton Lane at interchange #27B of the Baltimore Beltway and Dulaney Valley Road (Md. Route 146), one-half mile (one km) west of Hampton National Historic Site.

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John Wesley portrait
John Wesley (28 June [O.S. 17 June] 1703 – 2 March 1791) was an Anglican cleric and Christian theologian, and is largely credited with founding the Methodist movement. The Methodist movement began when Wesley took to open-air preaching in a similar manner as George Whitefield at Hanham Mount, Kingswood, and Bristol.

Wesley helped to organize and form Methodist societies throughout Britain and Ireland, small groups that developed intensive, personal accountability and religious instruction among members.

Under Wesley's direction, Methodists became leaders in many social justice issues of the day, including prison reform and abolitionism movements. Wesley's contribution as a theologian was to propose a system of opposing theological stances. His greatest theological achievement was his promotion of what he termed "Christian perfection" or holiness of heart and life. Wesley insisted that in this life, the Christian could come to a state where the love of God, or perfect love, reigned supreme in one's heart. His evangelical theology, especially his understanding of Christian perfection, was firmly grounded in his sacramental theology. He continually insisted on the general use of the means of grace (prayer, Scripture, meditation, Holy Communion, etc.) as the means by which God transforms the believer.

Today, Wesley's influence as a teacher persists. He continues to be the primary theological interpreter for Methodists the world over. Wesley's call to personal and social holiness continues to challenge Christians who attempt to discern what it means to participate in the Kingdom of God.

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