The Wesleyan Church

While some of the impetus for peacemaking in the Wesleyan Church probably came from its later inclusion of the Pilgrim Holiness Church, some of it came early in the history of the Wesleyan Church, no doubt from its roots in the Methodist Church of John Wesley.

The following is from Beaman and Pipkin, 2013, p 124.

The Wesleyan Church; [The War Spirit], 1844

As early as 1844, the Wesleyan Methodists were dealing with the issue of War in their Discipline. They noted that the gospel was in “every way opposed to the practice of War in all its forms; and those customs which tend to foster and perpetuate the war spirit, [are] inconsistent with the benevolent designs of the Christian Religion.” The St. Lawrence Annual Conference of the Wesleyan Methodists commended the Quakers for showing “that love is a more powerful defense than physical force.” They also considered a resolution “to alter the denominational Discipline so that refusal to engage in war and military training would become a condition of membership.”

[Peace], 1915

The Wesleyan Methodist Church promoted peace until World War I, when they argued that, “Human War is undoubtedly the product of human
sin, but it does not necessarily follow that all who engage in war are sinners.”

Wesleyans can be found in WWI religious objectors’ draft cards, but sometimes they are members of other closely associated groups at the time.

Charles Henry Butcher; Wesleyan WWI Draft Registration Card

Howard L Fleming, Wesleyan WWI Draft Registration

Austin C. Hewitt was listed in a court martial trial (above) for refusal to serve in the military in WWI.  His draft card asked for family exemption, but after being drafted he refused to serve.  The code above, WeM, was for Wesleyan Methodist.  In his trial he testified that, “…he could not kill and would rather be killed than to kill.” So, he was court-martialed and imprisoned for the duration of the war.