Amazon had a copy of From Wesley to Asbury by Frank Baker that I just received. Baker starts out talking about John and Charles Wesley serving as missionaries in Georgia. Baker says, “Georgia meant much to the Wesleys and the Wesleys to Georgia.” Baker argues that the ministry they began there expanded on their work in the Holy Club at Oxford and led to their work with small groups in societies, preaching in informal locations, hymn-singing, extempore prayer, use of laymen and women, working for social causes and connections with Moravians that greatly impacted their work in England. He also argues that the seeds planted by the Wesleys in Savannah, nurtured further by Holy Club member George Whitefield laid groundwork for future Methodist successes.
Baker seeks to provide a timeline of early Methodism.
I think that we can claim that Methodism as a movement began with the Wesleys in 1736 and as a church in 1784. Methodist societies of a kind existed from 1736 and remained a feature of the movement.
It seems to me that although the birth of the Methodism movement in American must be dated in 1736, the conscious formation of groups of converted and converting Christians into Methodist societies looking to John Wesley as their exemplar and leader began in 1766.
Baker notes that:
in 1729, Methodist movement begins with Wesleys and Holy Club at Oxford
in 1736 Wesleys arrived in Georgia
in 1739, Methodist society begins with Wesleys organizing societies in Bristol and London
in 1766 Methodist society meetings were being held by Robert Strawbridge in Maryland and Philip Embury in New York.
in 1784, Methodist Church begins when annual conference of Methodist Church legally incorporated
Future chapters focus on Thomas Webb, Franics Asbury and Thomas Coke.
From Wesley to Asbury: Studies in Early American Methodism