April 2005


The Wesley Fellowship – Founded 1985

Former Hon. Presidents:
Rev.Dr Arthur Skevington Wood (1986-1993); Rev. John Lawson (2000-2003)

Chairman: Rev. Dr Herbert McGonigle

Secretary: Mr Paul S. Taylor, M.A., Stonebridge Cottage,
Back Lane, Shearsby, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England, U.K.  LE17 6PN

Tel/Fax: 0116-247 8679. E-mail:

The Executive Committee includes the above officers together with:

Book Sales: Rev. Tony Tamburello, 13 Charles Street, Colne, Lancashire, BB8 0LY
Tel/Fax:  01282-859014. E-mail:

Publicity Officer: Mr Ian Lockhart

Editor:  Mr William T. Graham


Our Spring meeting is planned for Saturday, April 23rd, at Zion Church of the Nazarene, Handsworth, Birmingham. From the inception of the Wesley Fellowship it was intended that these twice-yearly meetings would be both inspirational and informative. By ‘inspirational’ we meant that the programme of the day would warm our hearts and build us up in the love of God and in fellowship with one another. So we are always glad to welcome all who join us and have time for conversation, exchanging news and hearing what is happening in the various Church circles that we represent. But the WF meetings were also meant to be ‘informative,’ meaning that through the reading and discussion of Papers we would learn about (mainly) Wesleyan theology, history, biography and experience.

So, we look forward to our next meeting, on Saturday, April 23rd, 2005, to be both inspirational and informative! Two Papers will be read. Dr John E. Colwell has chosen for his topic ‘Making a Calvinist out of John Wesley: A Comparison of John Calvin and John Wesley on the Lord’s Supper’. In the traditions represented by John Calvin and John Wesley the Lord’s Supper has always been very important. While other topics might highlight differences of theological emphasis, the Lord’s people are truly one in coming to His table. Remembering Dr Colwell’s visit to us a few years ago (at our Wesley Fellowship residential conference held at Cliff College in 2000) we know that this Paper will stimulate our thinking. The second Paper on April 23rd, will be the 16th annual Maynard James Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Flame Trust, when the Wesley Fellowship Chairman will present a paper entitled, ‘Justification by Faith: The Heart of John Wesley’s Gospel’. The paper will attempt to show that the Pauline doctrine of salvation by faith was the foundation on which John Wesley built his whole theological system.

The Wesley Fellowship on the Web. For all those who use computers I'd like to tell you about our WF web site. It can be easily found by going to (or even more simply by putting the words ‘Wesley Fellowship UK' into any Internet search-engine, such as the internationally well-known ‘Google'). As Chairman of the Wesley Fellowship, I want to thank Mark Bolton, of Manchester, for the excellent work he has done in constructing this site. It is very attractive and professional and carries a lot of text dealing with our WF history, book reviews, articles, theological essays, links to other related sites, and much more. My thanks also to Bill Graham, our Quarterly editor, for exercising his well-known editorial skills on the web site material. Please make this WF web site known among your computer-literate friends!

Manchester Wesley Research Centre: New Lecture. Members will remember that the Manchester Wesley Research Centre (MWRC) was formally set up at the Nazarene Theological College in Didsbury, Manchester, on Wednesday 18 June 2003. The MWRC is a partnership between Nazarene Theological College, Didsbury, Manchester; the John Rylands University Library of Manchester; the University of Manchester's Department of Theology and Religions; the International Board of Education of the Church of the Nazarene; and Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri, USA. The purpose of the MWRC is to promote research scholarship at MPhil and PhD levels in the life and work of John and Charles Wesley, their contemporaries in the 18th century Evangelical Revival, their historical and theological antecedents, and contemporary scholarship within the Wesleyan and Evangelical tradition.

John Dolan, who read a paper to us on Independent Methodism at a Wesley Fellowship meeting in Birmingham a few years ago, gained last autumn the first Manchester University PhD degree through the MWRC, after his further research on this same subject. Now the first MWRC Annual Lecture is planned for Monday, 18 th April, 2005 , in the J B Maclagan Chapel , at Nazarene Theological College , Dene Road , Didsbury, Manchester , beginning at 7.00pm. The Lecturer will be Dr Henry D. Rack , the distinguished Methodist historian , and Bishop Fraser Senior Lecturer in Ecclesiastical History Emeritus in the University of Manchester . Dr Rack's book, Reasonable Enthusiast: John Wesley and the Rise of Methodism , now in its Third Edition, is among the most significant books published on the life and work of John Wesley in the past two decades, if not the twentieth century. Dr Rack's Lecture will be entitled, ‘Recent Trends in Wesley Scholarship .' All WF members and friends are warmly invited to this inaugural Manchester Wesley Research Centre Annual Lecture.

Herbert McGonigle


Question: Some time ago I read somewhere about John Wesley's ‘Puritan ancestors.' What does this mean? I always thought his ancestors were Anglicans.

Answer: John Wesley's ancestors were both Anglican and Puritan! The term ‘Puritan' refers to a movement that arose in the English Church at the time of Elizabeth 1 (1558-1603). These ‘Puritans' campaigned for a more radical Reformation in England . When Charles II became King in the Restoration of 1660, his government disliked all things Puritan and Charles blamed the Puritans for the execution of his father, Charles I, in 1649. In 1662 the government legislated the Act of Uniformity, forcing all ministers to conduct Church services only by the rites of the newly revised Prayer Book. Some 2000 ministers refused to conform and were ejected from their parishes. Among those who lost their livings were Bartholomew Wesley and his son John - great-grandfather and grandfather respectively of John and Charles Wesley. Another ejected minister was Dr Samuel Annesley, maternal grandfather to the Wesleys. John Wesley's father, Samuel Wesley, and his mother, Susanna Annesley, before they married, had both left their Nonconformist backgrounds and entered the Church of England. The home they set up, especially when they moved to Epworth in Lincolnshire , was characterised by both Anglican and Puritan devotion. The Anglican influence was seen in the importance they gave to the service of the Lord's Table; also they closely followed the services of the Book of Common Prayer for both public and private devotion. But Samuel and Susanna Wesley also brought to their home and family the marks of their Puritan upbringing; a love of learning and good books, devoting all one's time to God, the supremacy of Scripture and a strict observance of the Sabbath. Into this rich devotional amalgam of Anglican piety and Puritan devotion, John and Charles Wesley were born and grew up. Both these influences can be detected in their lives' work and ministry.

Herbert McGonigle

Editor’s Note: 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.


1. Membership Subscriptions 2005-2006. All members are respectfully reminded that a nnual membership subscriptions – which remain at the same level as they have been for several years – are now due as from 1 st April 2005. A subscription renewal form with full details is included for your use with this mailing . It always helps (and is very much appreciated) if subscriptions are paid when they are due. Once again, all members are thanked for their generous financial support and valued continuing fellowship over the years. I f you would like some spare Membership Application/Renewal 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 by encouraging younger persons – please inform the Secretary!

2. Spring 2005 Meeting of the Wesley Fellowship
We would encourage all members who possibly can, to join with us at the next meeting of the Wesley Fellowship. It will take place on Saturday 23 April 2005 (by kind permission of the Pastor, Revd Fred J. Calvert, and the Church Board) at our usual venue, Zion Church of the Nazarene, Brearley Street , off Booth Street , Handsworth, Birmingham , B21 0JJ . The day will begin from 10.30am , when drinks will be served by our friends at Zion . Please remember to bring your own lunch – when again drinks will be available. The afternoon session should end by about 3.30pm. If you are planning to travel (from outside the Birmingham area) by car to the meeting , 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 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). 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 yards 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 the city centre and 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 yards, 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 Wolverhampton and Birmingham ). Book to “ Booth Street , Handsworth Station”. This leaves just a short walk along Booth Street , to the Zion Church , situated at the junction with Brearley Street .

The meeting will open formally at 11.00 am, during which time the first lecture, ‘ Making a Calvinist out of John Wesley: A Comparison of John Calvin and John Wesley on the Lord's Supper ', will be given by the Revd John Colwell , BD, PhD, who is Tutor in Christian Doctrine and Ethics and Academic Dean at Spurgeon's College, London . Dr Colwell's personal current focus of interest is the manner in which the Church can continue to speak to the world in a post-modern context (in particular with attention to the writings of Colin Gunton, Stanley Hauerwas, Kevin Vanhoozer and Francis Watson). His academic focus involves an interest in previous thinkers who have proposed some form of theocentric - and Trinitarian - epistemology (in particular George Berkeley and Jonathan Edwards). Apart from his paper, ‘Offending in Many Things: A Comparision of John Wesley and Thomas Aquinas on the Nature of Sin in the Believer' (published by the Wesley Fellowship in Wesley Papers , ed. Paul Taylor, 2002), one of his other recent publications is: Living the Christian Story ( London , T & T Clark, 2002). After a short break for lunch, the 16 th Annual Maynard James Memorial Lecture , with the title ‘ Justification by Faith: The Heart of John Wesley's Theology ', will be given by the Wesley Fellowship Chairman, Revd Herbert B. McGonigle , BD, MA, DD, PhD, Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre and former Principal of the Nazarene Theological College, Manchester. WF Members will remember that this is a change of speaker to the originally announced arrangements, as the Revd Gordon A. Thomas, ThB , MA , has, unfortunately, had to withdraw from this engagement owing to illness. Our prayers are with Gordon, Betty-May and the family at this time, as he continues to undergo further treatment for cancer. Gordon has recently written some e-mailed notes to his wide range of Christian friends who have been praying for him. A number in the Fellowship have asked about how Gordon is getting on, so here is an abstract of what he has written that may help members to pray more meaningfully.

“ Sorry for my long delay in writing. I guess you eventually heard that my health took a turn for the worse and therefore I never did manage the immunotherapy trials. I have virtually no memory of the three weeks or so that followed Christmas.…At some point I suffered a brain haemorrhage….In the late afternoon of Tuesday 11th January Betty-May…had to call an ambulance and take me to…Wythenshawe Hospital [and then] the neurosurgery unit at Hope Hospital, where the next morning they drilled a couple of holes in my skull. I had been there several days before I can remember anything. The next step I can recall is having an MRI scan on my head and then being told that more surgery was required to remove more melanoma from my forehead. The second surgery was about the end of January. They cut through my skull from left ear up and over and down to my hairline again above my right eye. I take their word for it that they also removed the tumour inside there while they had the opportunity. I think I was sent home on about the 9th February….After I had been home about a week I was summoned back to Hope to see the oncologist, who showed us the brain-scans. Not only was there a large melanoma on the forehead but also several smaller tumours in the centre of my brain. They had removed the large one but the others were inoperable. Radiotherapy was what he proposed instead - eight consecutive days of it. While I had the chance, I asked what the prognosis now was. The doctor asked me whether I really wanted to know and I assured him that I preferred to deal with truth rather than with guesses. The best case allegedly is a couple more years of life. The worst is a couple more months. Naturally this hit both Betty-May and me quite hard. We decided not to talk with the general public about the medical prospects until we had checked things out with God first. So we had some serious talking and praying with a few close friends and relatives in the days that followed. None of us felt that an early death was confirmed and so we committed ourselves to praying afresh for my healing. [I am now having] radiotherapy sessions ….I think I recovered pretty well from the lymph-gland surgery in November but the brain surgery in January has really knocked the stuffing out of me. I seem to spend most days lying down - or wishing I was lying down. The medics say that I will never work again and treat me as terminally ill. I recognise that many Christians die without reaching old age but most of the time I just don't want to add to their number. God is good and his people have overwhelmed us with love and support, but I have to confess that sometimes these are very testing days nonetheless…. Many thanks for the constancy of your love and prayers. I wish you and yours every blessing in the coming year. A slower, quieter but still Christian, Gordon”

3. The next autumn meeting of the Wesley Fellowship is planned for Saturday 22 nd October 2005 in Birmingham . Further details later.

Paul Taylor

Tribute, from Paul Taylor, to The late Mr John Ernest Watkins (1908-2004)

Our brother in Christ, John Watkins, has received his ‘exceeding great reward' in heaven. John was born in Birmingham on 31 March 1908 and died at the age of 95 on 9 December 2004. John was converted to Christ in the Railway Mission at Tyseley at the age of 19 and later was able to testify to an experience of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. John Watkins was a founder member of Emmanuel Hall in Handsworth, a work which he led for thirteen years. John was also latterly a member of Zion Church of the Nazarene, Brearley Street , Handsworth, Birmingham . Pastors and visiting preachers were always glad and encouraged to have John in their congregations. His enthusiasm and love for God were an inspiration. John was also a keen and active member of the Wesley Fellowship and hardly missed a Birmingham meeting until his failing health prevented his attendance. He was an ardent advocate of all things Wesleyan and especially for the experience of entire sanctification. He will be sorely missed – not least by Wesley Fellowship members who regularly attend the Birmingham meetings.


McGonigle , Herbert B., John Wesley's Arminian Theology: An Introduction , 2nd edition (Shearsby: The Wesley Fellowship, 2005. Paper, pp. iv, 36. £3.50. ISBN 0-953747360). (Obtainable directly from: Wesley Fellowship Book Sales Department, 13 Charles Street , Colne, Lanashire , BB8 0LY ; Tel/Fax: 01282-859014; e-mail:

This is a revised and reset version, now enhanced with new material and references, of the Wesley Fellowship Occasional Paper No. 3, first published in 1988, with the title The Arminianism of John Wesley . The revisions reflect Dr McGonigle's continuing work on the subject very valuable book to have and to read. Tim Shenton has done the Christian world a singular service in bringing to our notice men deeply involved in revival but who are now largely unknown. The ‘forgotten heroes' include George Thomson, a young and gifted Anglican from Cornwall ; James Rouquet, an associate of the Wesleys and the Countess of Huntingdon, whose life was largely given to ministry among prisoners. We are introduced to Captain Jonathan Scott, a military officer who had a remarkable impact on his fellow soldiers and later in ‘civvy street'; and David Simpson, whose ministry in Macclesfield was evangelical and evangelistic with a keen social concern. Lastly, Thomas Pentycross, was a gifted orator and actor, who exercised a powerful, if somewhat controversial, preaching and educational ministry. The book is very well produced with easily readable text and valuable pictorial inserts and, for this reader, proved to be informative as well as inspirational. The author is headmaster of St Martin's School in Bournemouth as well as an elder at Lansdowne Baptist Church . Further details about this book may be obtained from Tim Brinton (a Wesley Fellowship member) at Field House, 18 Ryle Street , Macclesfield, Cheshire , SK11 8BQ .

Paul Taylor

Brother Charles by Barrie W. Tabraham. The sixth volume in the Exploring Methodism series, (Epworth Press, Peterborough , 2003, pp.xi, 146, Pbk, £14.99. ISBN 0-7162-0570X) Having read Barrie Tabraham's earlier work, The Making of Modern Methodism , I was pleased to find this second contribution to the Epworth series from his skilful pen - and I was not disappointed. The author writes of Brother Charles with obvious enthusiasm. His research is careful and the book combines scholarship and inspiration in equal measure. It is a serious but readable biography helping to fill a niche in the already expanding literature on the younger Wesley brother. The book fills out the varied character of Charles Wesley giving valuable insights into some little known aspects of Wesley's life, personality, spirituality and ministry. It will serve as an introduction to Wesley's life for those who know only a little about him and at the same time enlighten those with a more specialist knowledge of this important figure of the eighteenth century revival. A chapter on the early years in the Epworth rectory is full of interest and is followed by a lively summary of Charles' eventful years at Oxford . The chapter on Marriage and Family is of particular interest as this aspect of Charles' life, poetry and hymns apart, distinguishes him from his elder brother. The book includes a chapter on Charles' hymns, and his often undervalued role as a Preacher and Pastor is the subject of chapter six. There are features of Barrie Tabraham's book which are especially commendable. Each chapter is interspersed with selections of Charles' poetry as well as carefully chosen citations from both primary and secondary sources, all carefully linked into the text with numerical identification. Each chapter also ends with a chronology and a series of questions suitable for group study. There is a valuable section on suggestions for further reading as well as a Glossary which will be useful for those readers who are not so familiar with the vocabulary of eighteenth century revival literature. Whilst the book is attractively produced, the format is a little unusual, being 23cm. X 20cm. It will stick out on the average bookshelf, which is, perhaps, not a bad thing! This reviewer can find little about this book to criticise, bearing in mind its purpose, and warmly commends it to as wide a readership as possible. In today's world of books the price is reasonable. Altogether a very ‘good buy'.

Paul Taylor

© The Wesley Fellowship 2005.