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Preeminently, John Wesley and other early Methodists were at the root of sparking this new movement during the First Great Awakening.

Today, evangelicals are found across many Protestant branches, as well as in various denominations not subsumed to a specific branch.

The movement has had a long presence in the Anglosphere before spreading further afield in the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries.

Its origins are usually traced to 1738, with various theological streams contributing to its foundation, including English Methodism, the Moravian Church (in particular its bishop Nicolaus Zinzendorf and his community at Herrnhut), and German Lutheran Pietism.

Among leaders and major figures of the evangelical Protestant movement were John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Harold John Ockenga, John Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

The movement gained great momentum during the 18th and 19th centuries with the Great Awakenings in Great Britain and the United States.

Bebbington notes four distinctive aspects of evangelical faith: conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism, noting, "Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism." Conversionism, or belief in the necessity of being "born again", has been a constant theme of evangelicalism since its beginnings.is a worldwide, crossdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ's atonement.