THE WESLEY FELLOWSHIP QUARTERLY

December 2000

 

The Wesley Fellowship Founded 1985

Hon. President: Rev. John Lawson, M.A., B.D.(Cantab.), B.Sc.(Agric.)(Lond.)
Chairman: Rev. Dr Herbert McGonigle
Vice-Chairman: Rev. Dr William Parkes
Secretary: Mr Paul S. Taylor, Stonebridge Cottage, Back Lane, Shearsby, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England, U.K.  LE17 6PN
Tel/Fax: 0116-247 8679. E-mail:  sagem03929@talk21.com
Executive Committee: Includes all officers above together with:
Rev. Tony Tamburello and Mr William T. Graham (Editor)


FROM THE CHAIRMAN: Reflections on Conference 2000
I am writing this with the ‘warm glow’ that lives on from our very wonderful residential two-day WF Conference at Cliff College in October.  From the Introductions to the Benediction it was indeed a memorable time.  A fellow-attender summed it up when he said to me: ‘If our members had known how good this Conference was going to be, we wouldn’t have room for all who would have wanted to come!’ There were four Papers presented, top in quality and which, hopefully, will be available in published form.  With careful research and evaluation Bill Graham informed us about the education of John Wesley’s preachers, illustrating how Wesley wanted his itinerants to have both warmed hearts and informed heads. John Colwell broke new ground in showing how both Thomas Aquinas and John Wesley saw biblical perfection in terms of love to God and man. Dr Colwell’s brief personal testimony to Christ’s power in his own life at a time of particular need made his presentation spiritually challenging as well as academically stimulating. Geoffrey Fewkes’ Paper on Reader Harris, the Founder of the League of Prayer, introduced a subject that was new to many of those present and Geoffrey made it ‘live’ with his usual animated style and use of overhead notes. And what can I say about Dr Bill Parkes’ Paper on the American Camp Meeting evangelist, Lorenzo Dow?  As expected, it was very carefully researched and delivered with clarity and conviction.  But it was more - it was a salutary reminder to all of us, especially preachers - to make sure we continue to walk humbly before the Lord.  Bill reminded us that Dow, once a most popular Holiness evangelist both in America and Britain, had a very sad end to his life and ministry.  But you must read this Paper (and the others)  for yourself when it is published by the WF!   The programme also included two uplifting expository sermons from Col. David Guy and Mr Paul Taylor, a very moving Love Feast conducted by Bill Parkes and the special fellowship that marks all meetings of the WF.

All too soon this wonderful Conference was over and we were saying our farewells to one another. But! - in the Lord’s good will, another such WF Conference is planned for October 2002 - so book your place early!   And one other piece of news.  The Revd John Lawson, retired Methodist minister, lecturer and author of A Thousand Tongues (and other titles) has accepted our invitation to become President of the Wesley Fellowship.  Our first President was the late Dr Arthur Skevington Wood, and after a hiatus since his death, we are delighted that Mr Lawson is our new President.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED:

This time there are three requests to locate sayings attributed to John Wesley.


Question 1
The first has to do with a statement that ‘without grace man is like the beasts of the field.’ 
Answer: This comes from Wesley’s 1759 sermon, Original Sin where he argues that apart from divine grace, fallen man is totally without the knowledge of God.  ‘Were two infants to be brought up from the womb without being instructed in any religion, there is little room to doubt (unless the grace of God interposed)....they would have no more knowledge of God than the beasts of the field, than the wild ass’s colt.’ (Works, 6:59).

Question 2
The second request is: ‘Did John Wesley actually say. “The world is my parish.”’?
Answer:  Yes he did, in a letter written in March 1739.  Replying to the charge that he was  ‘trespassing’  in other men’s parishes to preach, he replied: ‘I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right and my bounden duty to declare, unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.’ (Letters, 1:286).

Question 3
The third request is: ‘Is it true that John Wesley thought that the souls of the departed saved are in paradise and “preparing” for heaven?’
Answer:  Almost certainly this question arises out of a paragraph in the very last sermon he published, in January1791, just three months before he died.  Based on Heb. 11:1, and entitled, On Faith, Wesley reasoned about the condition of the righteous dead. ‘Can we reasonably doubt but that those who are now in paradise, in Abraham’s bosom - all those holy souls who have been discharged from the body...will be continually ripening for heaven; will be perpetually holier and happier, till they are received into “the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.”’ (Works, 7:328).

Herbert McGonigle

NB. Dr McGonigle is willing to consider questions on Wesleyan theology, history and experience for answers in this Newsletter, also locating Wesley quotes, etc. Such questions should be sent in the first instance via the Secretary.


FROM THE SECRETARY

1. Conference 2000
You will find elsewhere in this edition of the WF Quarterly, a number of short reports and testimonies, written by some of the members and friends who attended and enjoyed the refreshing and inspirational Wesley Fellowship Conference 2000, held at Cliff College, last October.  Two of our valued members, John and Pauline Gibby, who face challenges in their lives serving the Lord at home and abroad, were prevented at the last minute from attending the Conference.  Members at the Conference prayed for them at the time - and our brother and sister would still appreciate the prayers of the Fellowship.

2. Book & Audio Catalogue
Executive Member, the Revd Tony Tamburello, has produced an excellent new Wesley Fellowship Book & Audio Catalogue.  All persons attending the Conference 2000 were given a copy - and most books and tapes published by the Fellowship since 1985 are included.  An up-dated edition of the Catalogue (including a full set of tape recordings of all the Papers presented at the Conference 2000) is being prepared by Tony and should be sent to all members next year.  If you need a copy in advance (or require further information) Tony can be contacted at: 106 Burnley Road, Colne, Lancashire, BB8 8JA. Or tel./fax: 01282-859014. Or e-mail: tonytamb@aol.com

3. Wesley Fellowship Conference 2002
Following such a successful Conference this year, the Wesley Fellowship Executive has already begun preparations for another short residential Conference for October 2002.  We are planning to provide a venue that will be friendly to all members – particularly those who have physical disabilities or who would find en-suite accommodation more comfortable and acceptable to their needs.  We hope to soon have more details available for members who wish to make an early booking.

4. Subscriptions
Some members have still to pay their membership subscriptions for the current year, due on 1st April 2000.  Please contact the Secretary as soon as possible, if you want to check or confirm such matters.

5. Membership
A number of non-members attending the WF Conference 2000 have since expressed an interest to join the Fellowship and have also encouraged other friends to do so.  If you know of persons who may be interested in joining the Fellowship, please encourage them to do so, and put them in touch with the Secretary.  Alternatively, if you would like some spare Membership Application Forms, perhaps for distribution to colleagues or church friends, please contact the Secretary, who would be delighted to supply you with all you require. If you have any particular thoughts on how we may increase Wesley Fellowship membership – especially from younger persons – please inform the Secretary!

6. Next Meetings of the Wesley Fellowship
The next two meetings of the Wesley Fellowship are on Saturday 21st April 2001 and Saturday 20th October 2001. Both meetings will take place in Birmingham, with the kind co-operation of our friends at the Zion Church of the Nazarene, Brearley Street, Handsworth, Birmingham, from 10.30am for a prompt start at 11.00am, and both meetings should end by about 3.30pm. On  21st April 2001, the two papers to be presented are as follows: (a) “Susannah was a Theologian” given by the Revd Deirdre Brower, a lecturer at Nazarene Theological College, Manchester; and (b) the Maynard James Memorial Lecture, given by Major Norman Armistead, an officer in the Salvation Army and editor of The Flame, with the title “Alistair Smith of the Salvation Army”.
Drinks will be provided in the morning, from 10.30 to 11.00 and also at the break at midday – but please remember to bring your own food.  If you are travelling by car from outside the Birmingham area, the best route for most people is to leave the M5 motorway at West Bromwich (Junction 1) and then follow the main A41 road towards the centre of the city of Birmingham.  After passing the West Bromwich Albion Association Football Club stadium (“The Hawthorns”) and several sets of traffic lights, continue to proceed along the A41 (Holyhead Road) for a distance of about two miles after leaving the motorway.  Look out for the Murco Petrol Station on the right hand side of the road and turn sharply right at this traffic-light controlled junction into Booth Street.  After a few hundred metres along Booth Street, the Zion Church of the Nazarene should be seen on the right, at the junction with Brearley Street.  If you travel by train to Birmingham New Street Station, buses 74, 78, and 79, travel north from Birmingham city centre and eventually drive along Soho Road and Holyhead Road where they will stop, on request, near the Booth Street junction.  From here it is a short walk, of several hundred metres, along Booth Street to Zion Church (on the right) at the junction of Brearley Street.  It is also possible to travel from Birmingham city centre (Snow Hill Station) to Zion Church by means of the West Midlands light rail Metro tram system (which runs between the city centres of Wolverhampton and Birmingham).  Book to “Booth Street, Handsworth Station”.  This leaves just a short walk of a few hundred metres along and up Booth Street, to the Zion Church, situated at the junction with Brearley Street.

Paul Taylor


SOME PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON THE WESLEY CONFERENCE 2000

Denis and Virginia Haywood have written this report of their impressions of the Conference:

Somewhat ‘tongue in cheek’ we first mention the wonderful setting of Cliff College in which the Conference met – as we are both permanent residents who work at the College and we are somewhat biased!
We both felt humbled and privileged to ‘sit at the feet’ of people who obviously had well researched and knew their subject thoroughly, but who also had a real passion for it and the Wesleyan tradition.  We were led through interesting theological insights and were enlightened into the lives of those connected with the Wesleys or whose theology ran parallel to theirs.  Most of all those insights led us straight to Christ Himself, the source wherein the Wesleys laid their foundations.

The papers were: ‘The Education of Wesley’s Preachers’, given by Bill Graham;  ‘Stages in Salvation: John Wesley and Reader Harris’, given by Geoffrey Fewkes;  ‘Offending in Many Things: John Wesley and Thomas Aquinas on Sin in the Christian’, given by John Colwell;  and ‘Lorenzo Dow’, given by Bill Parkes.

We were enthralled by the two wonderful preaching services where the preachers were Paul Taylor and David Guy.  How blessed we were to listen to these two persons; it was excellent preaching of the kind hard to find today; which is vital to hear in today’s world, and which we crave to hear from our pulpits and preachers.  From each of the Papers and the two preaching services there were valuable truths and new insights to take in and reflect on.  Interestingly the two preacher’s thoughts dovetailed beautifully with thoughts presented through the Papers and we are certain that God’s Holy Spirit had been at work in this, as He revealed and reinforced His truths.

We were struck much by the warmth and strength of the Fellowship.  Members of the Fellowship for barely a year, we found the Conference an excellent opportunity to get to know people in a way which is almost impossible over the usual two one-day sessions held annually.  The Love Feast was a wonderful experience of openness and sharing between the members, particularly in testimony.  That atmosphere flowed over into the following day’s early morning Prayer Meeting as, in love, people (some mentioned the previous evening) were brought before the Lord in prayer.  This prayer was both fervent and sincere and, in this, the strength and caring of the Fellowship was confirmed.

Based on our impressions, we commend the Conference to those who, as yet, have been unable to attend.  A Wesley Fellowship residential Conference, with the time spent together, is a learning, sharing, and affirming experience.  It went far beyond the high expectations we had anticipated.

Ken and Maureen Rose have also recorded their memories of their time at the Wesley Fellowship Conference 2000:

In October we were privileged to attend the Wesley Fellowship conference at Cliff College in Derbyshire.  It was a real treat.  As well as enjoying the fellowship, Charles Wesley’s great hymns, a lively time of Questions and Answers, a Love Feast, and some stirring preaching, our perceptions and understanding were stretched by four high quality papers, opening up areas which (for us at least) were quite new.

Bill Graham’s erudite and fact-packed talk on ‘The Education of Wesley’s Preachers’ left us wondering whether Mr Wesley was ever able to put into full effect his incredible vision for the education of his preachers and their children, but it will surely help us to counter the view, still expressed in some circles, that academic study is somehow ‘unspiritual’.  The second presentation was by Geoffrey Fewkes, a Baptist minister from Swansea, entitled ‘Stages in Salvation: John Wesley and Reader Harris’.  Harris, a QC by profession, founded the League of Prayer, a holiness ministry, in 1891, and Geoffrey’s paper highlighted some significant differences between the original Wesleyan teaching and some of its later developments in the Holiness movements.  Another Baptist minister, Dr John Colwell, from Spurgeon’s College, spoke to us about ‘John Wesley and Thomas Aquinas on Sin in the Christian’.  We (and, we suspect, most of those present) had never associated Aquinas in any way with John Wesley, so it was a real revelation.  We wanted more!

Lastly, Bill Parkes gave us a fascinating picture of Lorenzo Dow, the eccentric American preacher who made a number of visits to Britain around the turn of the Eighteenth Century.  Dow was influential in stimulating the first Camp Meetings on Mow Cop, which themselves played a major part in the birth of Primitive Methodism.  Sadly, he ended his life in the toils of Freemasonry: an awful warning to all of us in any kind of ministry, and a reminder that however great the gifts God has given us, and however powerful the anointing of His Spirit, we need always to hold ourselves accountable to our brothers and sisters in order to avoid ‘making a shipwreck’ of the Faith. 

We returned home stimulated and challenged, grateful for a conference that had combined sound historical scholarship with a surprising amount of relevant application for today.  We had indeed enjoyed a ‘feast’.  The food served up by the College chefs wasn’t bad, either!

During the Conference, Ian Lockhart, appointed last year as pastor of a small church in Lancaster, gave a word of testimony that touched the hearts of those present.  He has very kindly given permission for the substance of that testimony to be published here in this edition of the Wesley Fellowship Quarterly.

I committed my life to Christ nearly ten years ago as the result of hearing a sermon on Hebrews 3: 15, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart’.  After this event, I became a member of the Lisburn Church of the Nazarene and soon felt a ‘calling’ to the Nazarene ministry.  I spent three years training and working with the Faith Mission.  I recently graduated from the Nazarene Theological College, and am presently pastoring the Lancaster Church of the Nazarene.  I am married to Grace, who is also studying in Manchester at Nazarene Theological College.  We have three children, Stephen (4), Paul (3), and Rachel (2).

While driving to this year’s Wesley Fellowship Conference at Cliff College, I shared the car with a devil named ‘Screwtape’.  In one of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters (brilliantly read in a tape recording by John Cleese) this experienced devil describes how ‘the enemy’ wishes to make humans into ‘horrid little replicas of himself’, and that every attempt should be made to hinder this awful work being completed.

With this being my first year in the pastorate, I have encountered many new experiences.  Some of the situations I was ready for, others – nothing could have prepared me for them!  Nevertheless, the greatest joy has been to watch some of the congregation allow the Holy Spirit to work upon their hearts, and to receive the gifts and graces that He has promised to them in response to their deep searching and sincere consecration.  It has also been disappointing to watch those who have been truly challenged by God, about growing deeper in Him, deem the sacrifice and the commitment required as too costly.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to escape this process of ‘replica-building’.  In fact, I have probably learnt more about myself this year than I ever have before.

This year’s Conference forcibly reminded me of the heritage and call of the ‘Holiness’ churches (if not all churches) to proclaim and exhibit a life characterised by God’s power and love.  Certainly this has personal implications, but it also has severe congregational implications.  We have been told that the world will realise that Christ exists and cares as we truly care and love one another in our fellowships and churches.  However, this love not only has to be shared with our Christian brothers and sisters, but also must reach those who are unloved, lonely, and hurting.  Christ’s love (evidenced in His birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, the giving of the Holy Spirit, and His promised return) embraced a world of unloved, lonely, and hurting people; a people outside covenant.  We are compelled to do the same, despite our failings, infirmities and shortcomings.  As ‘horrid little replicas’ may we shun evil and recoil from known sin; ‘walk in the light, as he is in the light’, allow the Holy Spirit to empower us and give us the gifts needed for each ministry, both lay and ordained, thereby glorifying our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This is my prayer!


BOOK REVIEWS

A Dictionary of Methodism in Britain and Ireland, edited by John A. Vickers (Peterborough: Epworth Press, 2000.  pp x + 438. ISBN 0716205343.  £30.00).

This is a very welcome handy, user-friendly, yet authoritative addition to the needs of all those interested in widening their knowledge of the history of Methodists and Methodism. There is nothing else quite like it available – the nearest equivalent British publication would be the very much more expensive, two-volume Blackwell Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1730-1860 (published in 1995).  The Blackwell Dictionary has many excellent, generally longer, in-depth biographies (some written by our late WF President, the Rev. Dr Arthur Skevington Wood) that record evangelical (not just Methodist) lives worldwide.  But it does not deal with non-biographical subjects or any developments after the middle of the nineteenth century.  The Dictionary of Methodism, on the other hand, covers subjects beyond the merely biographical and deals with Methodist issues right up to the end of the twentieth century.  Without doubt it provides a handy, yet comprehensive and up-to-date, ‘first port of call’ to finding a concise introduction to information about a wide range of material covering the history of people, places, subjects and events connected with Methodism in Britain and Ireland.  Dr Vickers, with his team of distinguished editorial advisors, has clearly been working on this project for a long time as several of his 120 contributors (who have written the 2000 or so fine cameo articles) have sadly died before the volume was finally published.  There are well over 1000 books included in the useful bibliography, to which readers of the articles are frequently referred to find more information on their selected subject.  There is also a helpful cross-reference system used in the Dictionary that can quickly guide readers to related articles.  That there are some omissions and errors is almost inevitable in a work of this kind.  Thus, it is clear that an entry on Francis Asbury (born in Staffordshire and one of Wesley’s Itinerant preachers as well as a great pioneer hero of American Methodism) was planned because there are frequent cross-references to his non-existent article!  Nevertheless, this Dictionary is good value by today’s prices – and, since I obtained my copy, I have found it not only an interesting book to browse in but also extremely useful as a quick check on several matters when I was preparing a Paper for presentation at the recent WF Conference.Several members of the Wesley Fellowship (including the Revd Peter Gentry, and the Revd Drs Herbert McGonigle and William Parkes) are to be congratulated on being invited to contribute to this important publication - and this fact is further evidence that I can commend this Dictionary to members of the Fellowship.  Dr Vickers invites any reader who has suggestions or comments on corrections or additions for a possible second edition (may be in a CD-Rom version) to contact him. Perhaps such an electronic version would overcome a reader’s problems in quickly finding information on a person, such as the evangelist Lorenzo Dow, who has no specific article under his name - but has important information regarding his influence on Primitive Methodists (such as Bourne and Clowes) hidden away under the article on ‘Camp Meetings’.    Nevertheless, this Dictionary, in one form or another is set to remain as an invaluable standard reference tool for years to come on matters connected with British and Irish Methodist history.  It has articles ranging from (almost) all the expected ones such as ‘Arminianism’ and ‘Antinomianism’ to Wesley and Zinzendorf, to the less expected - such as ‘America’ to ‘Zambia’, or ‘Ceramics’ to Methodist Philately, or Sir David Frost to the father of J. Arthur Rank.

Fixed on this Ground or Reflections from an Open Heart by John Lawson (Privately Published by the Author, Exeter, 1999, pp 65; obtainable directly from the Rev. John Lawson, 57 Homecourt House, Bartholomew Street West, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3AD, for £3.00 including postage to any UK address).

Our new President of the Wesley Fellowship, the Rev. John Lawson, on his ninetieth birthday, privately published this delightful and very moving little book.  As would be expected from the expert pen of an internationally recognised scholar and writer, it is a beautifully written testimony to his Christian experience and theological thought, arising from his long life and work in Britain and America.  Mr Lawson explains in his introduction that he was stimulated to write this book following a heart attack and subsequent hospital surgery in the United States.    It is a readable, revealing, and very touching testimony to the faith of a believer.  As Mr Lawson puts it, a faith, ‘for long sincerely believed by the mind, and earnestly resolved by the moral will, [which] by the influence of the Holy Spirit came home to the heart with power and peace and joy’.  Those of us who have read it can thoroughly recommend it to all our members.  Mr Lawson has only a limited number of these books still available - and I would urge you to act promptly if you want to obtain a copy of this fine book, which reveals something of the life and testimony of the new Wesley Fellowship President.

Bill Graham


© The Wesley Fellowship 2000.