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In the early 19th century, the MEC became the largest and most influential religious denomination in the United States.With growth came greater institutionalization and respectability, and this led some within the church to complain that Methodism was losing its vitality and commitment to Wesleyan teachings, such as the belief in Christian perfection and opposition to slavery.Around the same time, the holiness movement took shape as a renewal movement within the MEC focused on the experience of Christian perfection, but it eventually led a number of splinter groups to break away from the church.Due to large-scale immigration of Catholics, the Catholic Church displaced the MEC as the largest US denomination by the end of the 19th century.At this conference, Coke ordained Francis Asbury as co-superintendent according to Wesley's wishes.Asbury had been serving as general assistant since Rankin returned to England.Around fifteen or twenty societies formed a circuit.Anywhere from two to four itinerant preachers would be assigned to a circuit on a yearly basis to preach and supervise the societies within their circuit.

While critics derided Methodists as fanatics, the Methodist Episcopal Church continued to grow, especially during the Second Great Awakening in which Methodist revivalism and camp meetings left its imprint on American culture.The Methodist Episcopal Church originated from the spread of Methodism outside of England to the Thirteen Colonies in the 1760s.Earlier, Methodism had grown out of the ministry of John Wesley, a priest in the Church of England (also known as the Anglican Church) who preached an evangelical message centered on justification by faith, repentance, the possibility of having assurance of salvation, and the doctrine of Christian perfection.One itinerant preacher in each circuit would be made the "assistant" (because he was an assistant to Wesley), and he would direct the activities of the other itinerant preachers in the circuit, who were called "helpers".Wesley gave out preaching assignments at an annual conference.

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