When American Methodism was formed in 1784, the church accepted Wesley’s mandate to “reform the continent and spread Scriptural Holiness over these lands.” For over a century, Methodist preachers and churches throughout the nation promoted the Holiness cause. As the church grew larger and wealthier, however, the Holiness testimony tended to fade as a distinctive teaching and experience in the church. Despite attempts to renew the Holiness message in the church both before and after the Civil War, the trend away from Holiness theology and experience was clearly established by the end of the nineteenth century.
The last major Holiness revival among the Methodists and other mainline Protestant churches came after the formation of the National Holiness Association in Vineland, New Jersey, in 1867. But the resulting revival failed to bring the majority of the American church back to the Holiness cause. When the Southern Methodist Church rejected the Holiness Movement in 1894, more than 25 new Holiness groups dedicated to the promotion of Holiness preaching and living formed in the United States.