Methodism sprang from the Great Revival of religion – sparked off by the Wesley brothers, John and Charles who had a “spiritual” conversion in May 1738. Methodism spread rapidly in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and then overseas to the West Indies and North America. Through the Missionary efforts of Dr. Thomas Coke and his supporters, the foundations were laid for worldwide communion of “the people called Methodists” – the name John Wesley used for the people who joined the societies.
On August 13,1776 Coke met Rev’d John Wesley for the first time and expected a job offer as a Methodist Preacher. To his disappointment Wesley advised him to return to his Curacy. Within one year Coke was driven out of his Parish when it became evident he was running it as a Methodist Circuit. In desperation he went to Wesley to present his case and was advised “to go Preach the gospel to all the world”.
Young Coke became a valuable helper for Wesley and was instrumental in the start of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and soon became one of its Bishops. Methodism began spreading in England and soon Coke was made Wesley’s personal representative thus enabling him to visit America in 1784.
In December 1786 Thomas Coke came to the West Indies. He left England on September 24,1786 destined for the U.S.A. taking three missionaries to their station. On his way his boat became engulfed in a storm thus sending him off course. Still at sea in December, Coke and his companions were almost thrown over board as fish food because they were thought to be a bad omen. Early on Christmas morning their boat drifted into St. John’s Harbour in Antigua over two thousand miles from their destination of Nova Scotia.