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George Whitefield

             The English evangelist and founder of the Calvinists Methodists, George Whitefield was born in Gloucester, England, on December 16, 1714. He was an innkeeper's son and did not care much for schooling as a young child. In 1732, he matriculated at Pembroke College, Oxford. During his studies at Oxford, Whitefield became associated with John and Charles Wesley who were trying to revive the lifeless and passionless Anglicanism that seemed grip the nation. In 1936 Whitefield graduated from Oxford and in the same year was ordained as a deacon of the Church of England (4). It was within a year after his ordination that Whitefield started to become known as a controversial figure for he dared to challenge the established church, which nobody really did at that time. In 1738 Whitefield made his first of seven trips to America. During his first visit he preached and helped organize schools and orphanages in Georgia. In late 1738 he returned to England only to find that the national church looked down on him (including being denounced by the bishop of London) and pulpits began to close to him and the clergy of the local churches grew very wary of him. This was all due to his mingling with dissenters and controversial preaching against The Church. As the churches closed their doors to him, Whitefield took to the idea of preaching in open fields so he would not be dependent on the church or their society in order to continue his preaching (2).
             It was shortly after the bishop denounced him that Whitefield decided to return to America. If one reads Whitefield's journals these events are thoroughly described (1). Once back in America Whitefield began preaching through the 13 colonies starting in the North and working his way south. It was his presence and revivalism spirit that helped set flame to the "Great Awakening" in America, which lasted for about 20 years. One can say that he helped spark the first truly national event in America (4).

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