Incorporating The Wesley Fellowship Quarterly
The Executive Committee includes the following officers:
CHAIRMAN: Rev. Dr Herbert B. McGonigle
Mr Alistair Barclay
BOOK/TAPE SALES: Rev. Tony Tamburello, 13 Charles
Street, Colne, Lancashire , BB8 0LY
PUBLISHING: Mr Paul S. Taylor E-mail: email@example.com
EDITOR : William T. Graham Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WITHOUT PORTFOLIO: Mr John Gibby Email: email@example.com
FROM THE CHAIRMAN
Our Spring meeting of the Wesley Fellowship is planned for Saturday 25th April, at Zion Church of the Nazarene, Birmingham. Our twice yearly meetings, in April and November, are always enjoyable, inspirational and informative occasions and our April meeting promises a great day! Dr Geordan Hammond, who is Administrator at the Manchester Wesley Research Centre at Nazarene Theological College, will bring the morning Paper. Dr Hammond recently completed his PhD degree, doing research on John Wesley’s time in America. This is an area of John Wesley’s life that has not been dealt with before in our WF meetings. The Paper is entitled ‘John Wesley in Georgia.’ In the afternoon the Revd Allan Longworth will preach on Scriptural holiness. Allan is well known for his fine ministry of expository preaching and across all the years I’ve known him I’ve admired so much both his biblical grasp of the subject and his commitment to it. As of late, the meeting is a joint event between the Wesley Fellowship and the League of Prayer. Such a good programme is worthy of a good attendance, so let’s plan to have a great rally on April 25th.
A Residential WF Conference is planned for November 4-6 at the Swanwick Conference Centre. Many of those who attended our Residential Conference in April 2007 expressed the hope that another such WF Conference would take place and we’ve now booked the dates. The theme of our Conference will be: ‘The Wesleys: The Word and the Spirit.’ This theme relates to the emphasis on Scripture and the Holy Spirit that was so central in the ministries of John and Charles Wesley. A full programme is planned for our days together. The Revd Douglas Crossman, well known in convention ministry over many years, will preach. There will be 5 major Papers representing the theme. The five Papers are: ‘The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Hymns of Charles Wesley’ by the Revd Harold Moore; ‘The Otley Revival of 1760 and the Emphasis on Entire Sanctification,’ by the Revd Trevor Staniforth; ‘John Wesley and the Authority of Scripture’ by Revd Dr Herbert McGonigle; ‘The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in John Wesley’ by Mr Paul Taylor, and ‘John Wesley and Preaching’ by Mr Bill Graham. Now there surely is a feast of good things! There will also be a Love-feast, prayer and devotional times, the singing of Charles Wesley’s hymns, news and information on recent books and articles of Wesleyan interest – and very good fellowship! We need a minimum of 50 people attending for the full time to ensure that the event takes place. As Chairman of the WF I’m asking our members to make a special effort to attend. There will also be room for day visitors. Booking forms are enclosed with this Bulletin. Please plan now to be with us for a Wesleyan celebration of Word and Spirit!
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Question: Down the years I’ve heard a lot about the Class Meetings in early Methodism but very little about the Band Meetings. Can you please give me some information about them?
Answer: The Band Meetings were set up by John Wesley among his followers in 1738. Wesley had seen such meetings among the Moravians and he copied and adapted the practices. The general structure was that the Societies were made up of all the members, the Class Meetings consisting of eleven members and a leader, and the Band Meetings were composed of no more than six or seven members. The requirements for joining these General Societies (later called Methodist Societies) were simple: ‘a desire to save your soul and flee from the wrath to come.’ That meant that people could join the Societies and be in a Class Meeting before they professed conversion, provided they were seeking salvation. With the Band Meetings it was different. They were for professing believers only and they were set up to strengthen faith and fellowship and encourage the members to press on to full salvation. The Bands were to meet at least once a week and in their gatherings the six or seven people present had to be willing to be asked personal and searching questions. These questions included, ‘Do you desire to be told your faults?’ ‘What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?’, and ‘What temptations have you met with?’ Clearly these Band Meetings depended on their members keeping confidences about fellow members and being scrupulously careful not to reveal what had been disclosed and discussed. Consequently there is far less information available about the Band Meetings than about the Class Meetings because it would have betrayed the confidences of the members if the Band discussions had been published. It is also instructive to note that while the Class Meetings continued into the early 20th century, the Bands were disappearing even during John Wesley’s lifetime. It is most likely that the Bands gradually ceased because not many people were willing to be exposed to these kinds of searching personal questions every week. (For further information see John Wesley’s ‘A Plain Account of the People called Methodists’, in The Works of John Wesley, 8: 252-260).
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.
NOTE FROM THE WESLEY FELLOWSHIP TREASURER
My wife, Valerie, and I have recently joined the Executive of The Wesley Fellowship to undertake the secretarial / treasurer duties. These two positions were ably filled by Mr. Paul Taylor who relinquished them in April 2008. It takes two of us to follow this good man!! Valerie is doing the secretarial work and, being a Scot, I am looking after the finances. We are privileged to serve in this capacity for The Wesley Fellowship. Our names may be familiar to some of you as we fulfil similar roles within The League of Prayer.
Membership renewal time is here again. The enclosed WF Membership Renewal Form has been amended, and subscriptions slightly adjusted to reflect rising costs in postage, photocopying, stationery, etc. The form provides an opportunity for members not only to give their annual subscription but also, if so desired, to donate to the work of The Wesley Fellowship. Payment is due on the 1st April 2009. Cheques should be made payable to ‘The Wesley Fellowship’ and sent to me at the address on the front of this Bulletin.
GENERAL NOTICES, NEWS & NOTES
1. Spring 2009 Meeting of the Wesley Fellowship
The next regular meeting of the Wesley Fellowship will be on Saturday 25 April 2009 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 fourth time that the Wesley Fellowship and the League of Prayer have held such a joint meeting of united fellowship.
During the morning session, Dr Geordan Hammond will present a paper on ‘John Wesley in Georgia’. Dr Hammond lives in Sheffield and divides his time between working in Manchester (as Administrator of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre and Tutor in Church History at Nazarene Theological College), and Epworth, Lincolnshire (as Audience Development Officer at Epworth Old Rectory). His University of Manchester doctoral thesis was entitled ‘Restoring Primitive Christianity: John Wesley and Georgia, 1735-1737’, and so he should be well able to answer questions that may arise related to this fascinating, yet not so well known, part of Wesley’s life.
Following a break for (our own packed) lunch, we are delighted to announce that, in the afternoon session, the Revd Allan Longworth, MA (a retired Nazarene minister, and founder-member of the Wesley Fellowship, now living in Bolton), has been invited by the League of Prayer to preach a sermon on the theme of Christian holiness. Before the illness that caused Allan’s early retirement, he had been pastor at churches in Lancaster, Skelmersdale, Morley, and London. He is the author of three notable books - two on Samuel Wesley, 1690-1739 (elder brother of John & Charles Wesley), with the titles: A Brother Bereft: A Study of Samuel Wesley in Relation to his Brother John, and Samuel Wesley Junior; the third is entitled William Grimshaw, and is an illustrated and attractively written short biography of the 18th century evangelical incumbent of Howarth.
The WF Executive wish to apologise to members for not finding it possible - for longer than we had planned, hoped or expected - to send to members one of our normally regular ‘Occasional Papers’. We are making strenuous efforts to (DV) put this matter right before the end of the year!
3. Autumn 2009 Meeting of the Wesley Fellowship
Our regular Wesley Fellowship meeting this autumn will take the form of a residential conference, with the title and theme of ‘The Wesleys: The Word and the Spirit’. The Conference will be held in conjunction with The League of Prayer, at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, DE55 1AU, from late afternoon on Wednesday 4 November to early afternoon on Friday 6 November 2009. The accommodation offers full board, and rooms with en-suite facilities. Registration details can be found in the enclosed booking form, including arrangements and costs for those who wish to attend for just part of the Conference as day visitors. Completed forms should be returned to the Wesley Fellowship Treasurer (and Conference Registrar), Mr Alistair Barclay (his contact details are on the front page of this Bulletin). While the League of Prayer has invited the Revd Douglas Crossman to preach during the Conference, the Wesley Fellowship has invited a number of its own members to each deliver a paper related to the Conference theme. Apart from time for discussion and fellowship, the planned programme also includes daily devotional sessions (led by Mr John Gibby), and a Love Feast.
PLEASE BOOK THE DATES – AND HAVE THESE SPRING AND AUTUMN 2009 WESLEY FELLOWSHIP MEETINGS ANNOUNCED AT YOUR CHURCH - PLAN TO COME – ALL ARE WELCOME!
4. Other Events
(a) ‘Religion, Gender, Industry: Exploring Church and Methodism in a local setting’. This is the title of an International Conference, jointly organised by Oxford Brookes University & the Manchester Wesley Research Centre in co-operation with the Ironbridge Institute, to be held 16-18 June 2009 at the University of Wolverhampton’s Priorslee campus in Telford. The conference will focus on various issues including tensions between the Church of England & Methodism, religion & gender, and religion & a newly developing industrial society, in the context of Revd John (& Mary) Fletcher’s 18th century parish of Madeley, Shropshire. Registration details can be obtained from Margaret Pye (email@example.com), Oxford Brookes University, Harcourt Hill, Oxford, OX2 9AT (Tel 01865 488571).
(b) Dr Bruce Hindmarsh, Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College, Vancouver, will give the Fifth Annual Manchester Wesley Research Centre Lecture on Friday 19 June 2009 at Nazarene Theological College, Manchester. Details from Dr G. Hammond, firstname.lastname@example.org
(c) The Wesley Historical Society 2009 Annual Lecture & other events will be held on Saturday 27 June 2009 at Wesley Memorial Church, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford. There is a full morning and afternoon programme planned, with the Annual Lecture at 2.30pm. Further details, and information about booking overnight accommodation, are available from Dr Peter Forsaith. (Email: email@example.com Tel. 01865 488319).
5. Report on Mission to Bethlehem 1st to 16th October 2008 by Wesley Fellowship executive member John Gibby:
The Lord's good hand was with us as we reached out in the Name of Jesus into the West Bank areas to encourage many Palestinian brothers and sisters, and to visit many needy families in their village homes. Our practical and spiritual support for the Christian Care Homes, Churches, Schools and Community Centres, and other places, was much appreciated.
We were very excited in October 2008 by the printing in Arabic of 2000 copies of Colin Peckham's book The Authority of the Bible (translated by Adnan Hanoush) and to be able to commence the distribution of it into the Arabic speaking world! One-hundred copies are scheduled to go to Sudan. We also distributed 30 copies of the TBS Pictorial Arabic Bible Calendar to Muslim families and others, as well as various children’s books and several copies of the Gospel of Luke in Arabic. We thank the Lord for His provision for this ministry and pray that His precious word will bring light into the darkness!
Dr Hammond’s publications include: ‘The Revival of Practical Christianity: The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, Samuel Wesley, and the Clerical Society Movement’ in Revival and Resurgence in Christian History [Studies in Church History Vol 44], eds Kate Cooper & Jeremy Gregory (Woodbridge: Published for the Ecclesiastical History Society by The Boydell Press, 2008), 116-27; 'John Wesley in Georgia: Success or Failure?', Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society 56:6 (Oct. 2008), 297-305; and 'John Wesley's Mindset at the Commencement of His Georgia Sojourn: Suffering and the Introduction of Primitive Christianity to the Indians', Methodist History 47:1 (Oct. 2008), 16-25.
The first of these books was developed from a memorable lecture given to a Wesley Fellowship meeting in April 1989 at Trinity Methodist Church, Stoke-on-Trent. The second was Title No. 6 in the ‘Mini Wesley Series’, and the third was Title No. 8 in the ‘People Called Methodists’ series, both published by Foundery Press, Peterborough.
Douglas Crossman is known internationally as a fine holiness preacher. Accordingly, an American re-publisher of historic Wesleyan books, H.E. Schmul, approached Crossman in the 1980s to make recordings of some of John Wesley’s sermons. Years later, in 2005, American pastor, Dennis Hartman, was finally able to record Crossman reading ‘The Witness of the Spirit, I’; ‘The Almost Christian’; ‘Free Grace’; and ‘Justification by Faith’. These sermons are now available on two CDs. Further details can be obtained from Dennis Hartman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Social justice through the eyes of Wesley: John Wesley’s theological challenge to slavery by Irv A. Brendlinger (Ontario, Canada: Joshua Press, 2006. pp. xviii, 271. £13.95. pbk. ISBN 1-894400-23-2).
This fine study has been long awaited – a thorough investigation of John Wesley’s robust theological challenge to the concept and practice of slavery. Dr Brendlinger, Professor of Church History and Theology at George Fox University in Oregon, USA, is very well qualified to write it. His 1982 PhD research at Edinburgh University examined the views of some 18th century Evangelicals to slavery and race, and this book is the product of that research and his ongoing work in this field. Dr Brendlinger demonstrates that John Wesley’s exposure to slavery began at Oxford University in 1726 when he read a play dealing with an African prince who started a slave rebellion after he was sold into slavery. While there was no slavery in the English colony of Georgia when Wesley was there in 1736 and 1737, he did meet it in South Carolina. From then until the end of his life Wesley passionately opposed slavery in every form. In 1774 he published his no-holds-barred attack on slavery in his Thoughts upon Slavery, and the very last letter he wrote, a few days before his death, was to William Wilberforce MP, encouraging him in his campaign against slavery. In his Thoughts Wesley argued trenchantly that even without consulting the Bible, common humanity tells us it is wrong for one human being to buy or own or sell another human being. Theologically Wesley’s life-long opposition to slavery was the consequence of believing the Great Commandment. ‘You shall love the Lord your God ….and your neighbour as yourself.’ Wesley protested that slavery was utterly incompatible with love of neighbour. His theology on this point contrasts sharply with George Whitefield’s, who not only used slaves in his orphanage in Georgia but tried to use the Bible to defend slavery. Dr Brendlinger’s chapters include those dealing with ‘The Relationship between Wesley’s theology and his position on slavery’; and ‘The significance of John Wesley’s antislavery influence’. This book is very carefully researched, very clearly written and a most informative and compelling read.
Living the Christian Life: Selected thoughts of William Grimshaw of Haworth, by Paul Cook and Faith Cook (Darlington: EP Books, 2008. pp.90. £7.95. hbk. Illus. ISBN 978-085234-691-4).Frank Baker, in his classic 1963 study, described William Grimshaw as ‘the fountainhead of one of the most interesting [eighteenth-century] local revivals’, and added that not even John and Charles Wesley or George Whitefield ‘had such picturesque vigour nor influenced the revival in so many points’ as did this remarkable north of England Anglican priest and Methodist preacher. Evangelical Press are to be highly commended for publishing, on the tercentenary of Grimshaw’s birth, this beautifully printed and bound little volume. It contains hitherto unpublished (and for a time seemingly ‘lost’) devotional and sermon-like writings of Grimshaw, here transcribed and edited by Paul and Faith Cook, from manuscripts in Grimshaw’s own hand, originally collected during the 19th century by James Everett, and now lodged in the Methodist Archives at John Rylands University Library of Manchester. Some silent ‘minor’ changes have been made to the text and ‘obsolete’ words removed, so scholars will still need to consult the original documents – but, for all other purposes, this delightful book makes available in print for the first time Grimshaw’s own words on ‘The Believer’s Golden Chain’, ‘The Nature, State and Conduct of a Christian’, and ‘Experiences gather’d by Conversation with my own & the Souls of Others’. The present reviewer, following information kindly provided by Mr Paul Taylor (who reviewed Faith Cook’s fine biography of Grimshaw in the Wesley Fellowship Quarterly in September 2003), was able to obtain a copy of this new book at a reduced introductory price directly from the publishers via the good offices of David Woollin (email contact email@example.com). I believe that this offer might still be open for a short time to WF members who contact Mr Woollin.
© The Wesley Fellowship 2009.