Unsung Hero of Methodism

Unsung Hero of Methodism

. 1 min read

By Philip J. Brooks

From the image above you might think Captain Thomas Webb was a pirate. But he wasn’t a pirate, he was a preacher, one of the first Methodist preachers in America, in fact.

What may be so fascinating about Captain Thomas Webb is how he seemed to appear on the pages of Methodist history out of nowhere. We know very little about his early life. He was born in England in the 1720s, served in the British army, and lost his eye in the Seven Years’ War.[1]

Webb was first converted to Methodism in 1765. He was a very charismatic individual and his appearance gave him a commanding presence. He often preached in his uniform and would place his sword on the altar for dramatic effect. But it was Webb’s powerful preaching that ultimately kept listeners’ attention. Wesley was impressed by Webb and allowed him to become an iterant preacher in England.[2]

Still serving as an officer in the British Army, he was sent to New York in 1767. Wesley granted him permission to preach freely across the American Colonies. Methodism had been brought to North America some years before by Irish immigrants settling in Maryland and New York, but there was little-to-no regular contact between these groups. When not on duty, Webb spent every free moment traveling and preaching the Gospel. He would travel among the societies freely, assisting their leaders and helping create a sense of unity among them. Webb also is credited with spreading Methodism to Delaware.

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