Incorporating The Wesley Fellowship Quarterly
The Executive Committee includes the following officers:
CHAIRMAN: Rev. Dr Herbert B. McGonigle
JOINT SECRETARY / TREASURER:
Mr Alistair & Mrs Valerie Barclay,
BOOK/TAPE SALES: Rev. Tony Tamburello, 13 Charles
Street, Colne, Lancashire , BB8 0LY
PUBLISHING: Mr Paul S. Taylor E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR : William T. Graham Email: email@example.com
WITHOUT PORTFOLIO: Mr John Gibby
FROM THE CHAIRMAN
The Wesley Fellowship and the League of Prayer met this year on Saturday 19th April in Birmingham. Mr Paul Taylor brought us a very informative and interesting Paper on James Montgomery, the Moravian hymn-writer. In the afternoon the Revd Barry Hall preached and stirred and challenged our hearts. In all it was a day of blessing and inspiration and I want to thank those who participated and gave us a very worthwhile time together.
Before talking about our next WF meeting, I want to pay a very warm tribute to the late Revd Frederick James Turley (1928-2008). Fred, as we all knew and loved him, was a member of the WF from the beginning. Indeed he and his wife Jean attended what was the inaugural meeting of the proposed Wesley Fellowship, held in Stoke-on-Trent in February 1985. Later they both attended one of the very early WF meetings held at the Nazarene College in Didsbury, Manchester. Down the years Fred and Jean have attended almost every meeting of the WF. Fred was a minister in the United Pentecostal Church and he and Jean loved Wesleyan doctrine and history and biography, and especially Charles Wesley’s hymns. The very large Darlington Street Methodist Church in Wolverhampton was filled for Fred’s triumphant Thanksgiving Service on Wednesday 4th June. Eleven Tributes were paid to Fred, including very moving words from his son, Revd David Turley, a pastor in the USA. I was asked to represent the WF and read from Ephesians 1, one of Fred’s favourite Bible chapters. Fred was a brother beloved and we will miss him greatly in our WF meetings. To Jean and the family we send loving Christian greetings.
Our next combined Wesley Fellowship/League of Prayer meeting is on Saturday 1st November in Zion Church of the Nazarene in Birmingham. In the morning session I hope to bring a Paper entitled ‘The Atonement in Charles Wesley’s Hymns.’ The Atonement is at the very heart of the Christian gospel and is a doctrine in sharp debate among Evangelicals at present. Charles Wesley knew that this doctrine was under attack in his day and his hymns are full of references to Christ’s atoning death and resurrection. As usual there will be a time of open discussion following the reading of the Paper, and of course we will sing some of Charles’ Atonement hymns! In the afternoon we are delighted to welcome the Revd Bill Lynwode, retired Nazarene minister, who will preach. I hope that we all have 1st November clearly noted in our diaries and that we are planning to be in Zion!
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Question: I’ve seen a picture of John Wesley standing and preaching on his father’s grave. Did this happen just once or many times?
Answer: It happened many times. John Wesley made his first preaching visit to his hometown of Epworth on Saturday June 5, 1742. On the Sunday he offered to assist the minister of St Andrew’s Parish Church in preaching or reading prayers, but the offer was refused. This was the church where his father, the Revd Samuel Wesley (1662-1735) had been Rector for almost forty years and where John himself had been his father’s curate 1727-1729. Following the afternoon service, Wesley’s assistant, John Taylor, stood at the church gate and announced that as John Wesley had not been allowed to preach in the church, he would preach in the churchyard at 6. The news spread rapidly and when Wesley arrived at six he described the congregation as probably the largest Epworth had ever seen. John Wesley stood on the stone slab that covers his father’s grave. It is about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide and stands about 20 inches high. It made an ideal pulpit and because it was the property of the Wesley family, no one could legally prevent John Wesley using it. His text that Sunday evening in June 1742 was Romans 14:17, ‘The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ Wesley stayed for a week on that first visit to Epworth and preached every evening from the graveyard pulpit. He went back to Epworth in January 1743 and preached again from the stone pulpit. We don’t know how many times John Wesley preached from his father’s grave because in subsequent visits to Epworth he doesn’t mention it but he probably preached there many times. He was, however, in no doubt of how spiritually successful his preaching on that stone pulpit had been. In a letter to ‘John Smith’ in March 1747, Wesley spoke of the years when he had been his father’s curate in Epworth. ‘I am well assured I did far more good to them [the Epworth parishioners] by preaching three days on my father’s tomb than I did by preaching three years in his pulpit’ (J. Wesley, Letters, 2:96).
Note : Dr McGonigle is willing to consider questions on Wesleyan theology, history and experience, or locating Wesley quotes, etc., for answers in the WF Bulletin. He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
GENERAL NOTICES, NEWS & NOTES
1. Autumn 2008 Meeting of the Wesley Fellowship
The next regular meeting of the Wesley Fellowship will be on Saturday 1 November 2008 at Zion Church of the Nazarene, Brearley Street, Handsworth, Birmingham, B21 0JJ. Again we thank the Pastor, the Revd Fred Calvert, and members of the church, for their hospitality and providing drinks. The day will begin informally with arrivals from 10.30am, ready for a formal and prompt start at 11.00am. The meeting will end by 3.30pm. This will be the third time that the Wesley Fellowship and the League of Prayer have held such a joint meeting of united fellowship.
During the morning session, Revd Dr Herbert McGonigle, Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre and Chairman of the Wesley Fellowship, will present a paper on ‘The Atonement Teaching in Charles Wesley’s Hymns’. This is a subject that Dr McGonigle touched upon briefly during the WF meeting in Belfast last year, and it should be of considerable interest to anyone who has been even mildly aware of the on-going debate in evangelical circles concerning the doctrine of the Atonement - initially sparked off by Steve Chalke (& Alan Mann) with particularly contentious phrases in their book, The Lost Message of Jesus (2003), with its unsubstantiated portrayal of the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement as being ‘morally dubious’ and comparable to ‘a form of cosmic child abuse’. One of the advantages of attending a WF lecture is the opportunity usually afforded afterwards for questions and discussion. This should be particularly valuable on this occasion – and for some of us it might be helpful to read up on the subject a little in advance in order to take advantage of the occasion to learn more about this important doctrine both in the hymns (and other writings) of Charles Wesley as well as in Christian thought today.
Following a break for (our own packed) lunch, we are pleased to announce that, in the afternoon session, the Revd William Lynwode has been invited by the League of Prayer to preach a sermon on the theme of Christian holiness. Bill Lynwode is a retired minister and former District Secretary of the Church of the Nazarene, who now lives in Northamptonshire. As well as preaching, our brother will also be ministering in song.
PLEASE BOOK THE DATE - HAVE THIS MEETING ANNOUNCED AT YOUR CHURCH - PLAN TO COME – BRING FRIENDS – ALL ARE WELCOME!
On this subject, it is interesting to note what John Wesley wrote on 7 February 1778 in a letter to Mary Bishop, ‘…nothing in the Christian system is of greater consequence than the doctrine of Atonement. It is properly the distinguishing point between Deism and Christianity….Give up the Atonement, and the Deists are agreed with us….But the question is…What saith the Scripture? It says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself”; that “He made Him, who knew no sin, to be a sin-offering for us.” It says, “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.” It says, “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the atonement for our sins.”….But it is certain, had God never been angry, He could never have been reconciled….I do not term God [as others, like William Law, suppose] “a wrathful Being”, which conveys a wrong idea; yet I firmly believe He was angry with all mankind, and that He was reconciled to them by the death of His Son. And I know He was angry with me till I believed in the Son of His love; and yet this is no impeachment to His mercy, that He is just as well as merciful. But undoubtedly, as long as the world stands, there will be a thousand objections to this scriptural doctrine. For still the preaching of Christ crucified will be foolishness to the wise men of the world. However, let us hold the precious truth fast in our heart as well as in our understanding; and we shall find by happy experience that this is to us the wisdom of God and the power of God.’
Apart from the Bible and Charles Wesley’s hymns, and his (and brother John’s) other writings, a few other suggested ‘secondary’ sources for reading more on this subject might include: Gustaf Aulén, Christus Victor: An historical study of the three main types of the idea of the Atonement, translated by A.G. Herbert (London: SPCK, 1970, first published 1931); Kenneth J. Collins, The Scripture Way of Salvation: The heart of John Wesley’s theology (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997); Steve Jeffrey, Mike Ovey, & Andrew Sach, Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the glory of penal substitution (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2007); Harald Lindström, Wesley and Sanctification: A study in the doctrine of salvation (London: Epworth Press, 1956, originally published 1946); John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Leicester; Inter-Varsity press, 1986); and John R. Tyson, Charles Wesley on Sanctification: A biographical and theological study (Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury Press, 1986).
2. Meetings of the Wesley Fellowship during 2009
(a) The first regular meeting of the Wesley Fellowship in 2009 is scheduled for Saturday 25 April 2009, at our usual venue, Zion Church of the Nazarene, Brearley Street, Handsworth, Birmingham, B21 0JJ, with arrivals from 10.30am, ready for a prompt formal start at 11.00am, and the meeting ending by about 3.30pm. More details later.
3. Mission to Bethlehem
Wesley Fellowship executive member John Gibby writes:
4. Matter for Prayer
The Wesley Fellowship lost a highly respected member of many years standing on 22 September 2008, at Ilkeston, Derbyshire, with the passing of Miss Diane Robinson into the presence of her Lord after a long illness. Diane had been a faithful missionary-minded Christian over a long period, having moved from England in the late 1960s as ‘a young adventurer’ with her friend and companion Nova Gill (together joining a small and dedicated group of lay-workers under the leadership of the late Revd Frank Webster). They set out to establish a pioneering ‘outreach of holiness witness’ through the opening of a new work of the Church of the Nazarene in Cardiff, at a time when (according to one observer) ‘[south] Wales was as effectively resistant to the message of holiness…as she had been to the Wesleys in the 18th [century]’. In more recent years (before moving back to Ilkeston through illness) Diane and Nova worked with others, particularly in the south west of England, to promote holiness teaching and preaching through the work of the Grace Wesleyan Trust. We need to keep Nova and Diane’s family in our prayers at this time of bereavement.
5. Other Events
(a) The 2008 Didsbury Lecture will this year be given by Dr Kent E. Brower, Deputy Principal and Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Nazarene Theological College, Manchester. His subject will be ‘Holiness & Community in Paul’. The lectures will be delivered at 7.30pm over four evenings from Monday 27 October to Thursday 30 October 2008 in the Maclagan Chapel at Nazarene Theological College, Dene Road, Didsbury, M20 2GE. This is the thirtieth lecture in the series, the first being delivered in 1979 by the late Professor F.F. Bruce.
Confessions of an Oddity by John Wood (Privately published, Harwich, 2007. Pp. 119. Illus. pbk). Obtainable from the author, 2 Musgrave Close, Dovercourt, Harwich, Essex, CO12 3UJ, £5.00, including postage and packing.
This book is a ‘must read’ for all Christian folk who enjoy modern, humorous, lively and imaginative autobiography- and for others who are not sure if they do! The title gives a clue to personality and self-confessed eccentricity. But John Wood is a widely experienced and highly respected preacher, lecturer, evangelist and author, a man who has travelled an absorbing Christian pilgrimage and seeks always to give honour to the Lord in all things. Some chapter titles give the flavour of the book: ‘Survival of the Unfittest’, ‘Bun Fights and Missions’, and ‘About the Peculiars’. John tells us about his own varied life, his family, his highs and lows, his attachment to the Peculiar People of Essex, as well as his wide ministries and interests. Do not miss this book, it is a gem; and it has pictures!
A Dictionary of Methodism in Britain and Ireland, edited by John A. Vickers (Peterborough: Epworth Press, 2000. Hbk. Pp. x, 438. ISBN 0716205343. £30.00.
© The Wesley Fellowship 2008