Incorporating The Wesley Fellowship Quarterly
Chairman : Rev. Dr Herbert B. McGonigle
: Mr Paul S. Taylor, M.A., Stonebridge Cottage, Back
Lane, Shearsby, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England, U.K., LE17 6PN
The Executive Committee includes the above officers together with:
Book/Tape Sales : Rev. Tony Tamburello, 13 Charles
Street, Colne, Lancashire , BB8 0LY
Mr John Gibby
A very important diary date! Next year, 2007, will be the tercentenary of the birth of Charles Wesley, who was born at Epworth, Lincolnshire, in 1707. To mark this important occasion we are planning a Residential Conference, from Tuesday 3rd to Thursday 5th April 2007. The Conference will include Papers and activities celebrating the life, hymns and preaching of Charles Wesley. The two main speakers booked are: (a) the Revd Dr John A. Newton, C.B.E., the distinguished Methodist scholar, former President of the Methodist Conference, former Chair of the Archives and History Committee of the Methodist Church, and author of the ‘definitive biography’ Susanna Wesley and the Puritan Tradition in Methodism (2nd ed. 2002); and (b) the Revd Dr Herbert McGonigle, former principal of Nazarene Theological College, currently Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre, and author of the highly regarded Sufficient Saving Grace: John Wesley’s Evangelical Arminianism. This should be an inspiring occasion and a Conference not to be missed! Please note the dates, and plan to be with us at the Hayes Conference Centre. We promise that the Conference will include a large selection of Charles Wesley's hymns to be sung! A booking form and further contact details are enclosed with this mailing of the Bulletin.
FROM THE CHAIRMAN
In this issue of our Bulletin I want to talk about four matters. Firstly, I found it so disappointing not to be able to attend our April WF meeting. Afterwards I heard such good reports of the Papers read by Drs Martin Wellings and Ian Randall. Sincere thanks to both of them. Secondly, the Homecall of the Revd. George Kime is such a sad loss to our Fellowship. Paul Taylor has written a very fitting Tribute to our dear friend. We will really miss not having George among us any more in our gatherings. Thirdly, we look forward so much to our next meeting on Saturday 4th November. With Mr Alan Rose bringing a Paper on the Methodist New Connexion and the Revd Trevor Staniforth dealing with the Southport Methodist Holiness Convention, we are in for a very good day together! Both our speakers know their subjects so well, so come to be informed! Fuller details are in this Bulletin. I hope you already have the date in your diary. Let’s make an effort to be there on November 4th and perhaps encourage others to join us.
Finally, during next year there will be a number of Conferences and publications and special events to mark the three-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Charles Wesley. He was born into his Epworth rectory home on December 20, 1707. Our own Wesley Fellowship is planning one of the earliest of these conferences during the tercentenary year. It will meet in the Hayes Conference Centre, at Swanwick, Derbyshire, next April 3rd – 5th. It promises to be a great time of celebration! ALL the papers given will deal with various aspects of Charles Wesley’s life and work and ministry. We will hear about his home, his marriage and family and his travels as an itinerant preacher. And of course there will be much said about his amazing output of hymns – an output that made him the most prolific English poet of all time! We will not only hear about how and why and when many of the hymns were written but we will sing many of them as well!! It should prove to be a feast of hymn singing! Much has been written about John Wesley and George Whitefield regarding their preaching during the Revival. But Charles Wesley was also an anointed preacher and one of the Papers at our Conference will consider him as a preacher. As well as the Papers on Charles Wesley, we will have two preaching services and a Love Feast. The plans for this Charles Wesley Conference are all in place – and we want it to go ahead! For that to happen, we need at least 30 people to register to attend. If this number is not met, then sadly the WF committee faces the prospect of having to cancel the event. The committee is holding the costs at the lowest-possible level. I’m asking that YOU will please consider joining us for these three days next April. Book now and enable the committee to go ahead with this important Charles Wesley Celebration.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Question: Some time ago I heard a speaker in a service talk about John Wesley’s translation of the Bible. I’d never heard that before. Did he really translate the Bible into English?
Answer: John Wesley translated the New Testament from Greek into English but he did not translate the Old Testament. While recovering from an illness near Bristol in 1754, Wesley began to write his Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament. This was meant to be a commentary on all the books in the New Testament. In the ‘Preface’ he said his intention was to write these Notes mainly for ‘plain, unlettered men, who understand only their mother-tongue, and yet reverence and love the Word of God, and have a desire to save their souls.’ As Wesley worked on the translation into English, he came to the conclusion that some of the various Greek New Testament texts available to him (particularly a carefully edited New Testament Greek text (1734), and exegetical textual notes, Gnomen Novi Testamenti (1742), published by the Lutheran scholar Johann Albrecht Bengel, 1687-1752) were more accurate than those available to the 1611 King James translators. When Wesley’s Notes were published in 1755, the English text was still similar to what is found in the Authorised Version - but in some places it was different. These were the places where Wesley followed Greek texts he believed superior to those used by the 1611 (and earlier) translators. So in fact he did publish the full text of the New Testament as he had translated it from the Greek. This work, his Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament (usually abbreviated as ENNT), was very popular. Wesley published at least five more editions of these Notes during his lifetime, including his final thoroughly revised translation of The New Testament (without the full Notes) in 1790. Since then scores more editions of ENNT have been published. Ten years after his New Testament Notes appeared, Wesley published his Explanatory Notes upon the Old Testament. Like the earlier work, these Notes consisted of brief (sometimes very brief) explanations of the biblical text. In this latter work Wesley did not translate the Hebrew text but worked with the English text of the Authorised Old Testament.
Editorial Note: Dr McGonigle is willing to consider questions on Wesleyan theology, history and experience for answers in the WF Bulletin, also locating Wesley quotes, etc. Such questions should be sent in the first instance via the Secretary. Members will be interested to know that Dr McGonigle, far from being ‘retired’ (as some thought he might be when, in 2004, he left his post of Principal of Nazarene Theological College) has been kept busy since then, not least as Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre - as well as still being involved as a Senior Lecturer at the College. On top of that, during February and March this year he enjoyed a very successful lecture and preaching tour of the USA. This included the accolade of being the ‘Distinguished Scholar in Residence’ at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. In addition during this American tour, Dr McGonigle also delivered the Fruin Lectures on Scriptural Holiness at Olivet Nazarene University (near Chicago). He was also honoured with the title ‘Preacher of the Year’ at the Nazarene Bible College at Colorado Springs, Colorado. More recently, in July this year with his wife Jeanne, Dr McGonigle was in his native County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, as one of the main speakers at the week long Killadeas Convention, held near Enniskillen. These ‘Camp style’ meetings have been taking place and well attended for more than half a century. A report (by Dr McGonigle) of this year’s meetings was published on 3rd August in a local newspaper, The Impartial Reporter (the full article can be seen on the WF website). The venue of the Convention is in a wonderful setting alongside the beautiful Lower Lough Erne. For anyone who is looking for a holiday destination in July 2007 in some of the loveliest countryside in the UK - and combine it with the opportunity to attend Christian meetings that can offer ‘another kind of heat: the revival fires of the Holy Spirit’, then the Killadeas Convention can be highly recommended! Dr McGonigle reports that Kiladeas ‘seeks to fulfil the promise made to the Church in the New Testament that there will be “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord”’ (Acts 3: 19).
FROM THE SECRETARY
1. As members will know, the WF Executive has changed our preferred date for our regular Wesley Fellowship Autumn meetings from October to the first Saturday in November. So, the next meeting of the Wesley Fellowship will be on Saturday 4th November 2006, at our usual venue, Zion Church of the Nazarene, Brearley Street, Handsworth, Birmingham, B21 0JJ. The day will begin from 10.30am for arrivals and drinks, with a prompt start on the more formal part of the meeting at 11.00am. Please bring your own food for the break for lunch between the morning and afternoon sessions. We are grateful to the Zion Church members for their hospitality and for providing the drinks at lunchtime (and at the start and end of the day). The meeting should end by about 3.30pm. We look forward to an interesting and informative day of worship, learning, and fellowship. In the morning the paper will be given by retired Methodist minister and former Chairman of the Methodist Revival Fellowship, Revd Trevor Staniforth, BSc, BD, with the title ‘The History of the Southport Methodist Holiness Convention’. In the afternoon the paper will be given by Mr E. Alan Rose, BA, Editor of the Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society, with the title, ‘The History of the Methodist New Connection’. DO PLEASE BOOK THE DATE – PLAN TO COME – BRING FRIENDS – ALL ARE WELCOME!
2. Residential Charles Wesley Tercentenary Conference 2007
As the Chairman has already reminded us, instead of our usual WF Saturday meeting next Spring, we are marking the three hundredth anniversary of the 1707 birth of Charles Wesley with a three-day residential conference (with options for day visitors) to be held at the Hayes Conference Centre from the afternoon of Tuesday 3rd to the afternoon of Thursday 5th April 2007. This has been organised by the Wesley Fellowship in conjunction with The Flame Trust as a tercentenary celebration of the life and work of Charles Wesley. The lecture sessions will be presented in a popular style to appeal to a wide range of interests. The main speakers are the Revd Dr John Newton, CBE, President of the Wesley Historical Society and former President of the Methodist Conference, and our Chairman, the Revd Dr Herbert McGonigle, Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre and former Principal of Nazarene Theological College. Apart from informative and inspirational lectures, the programme will also include worship, preaching, a love feast, singing and fellowship. An application form is enclosed with this mailing of the WF Bulletin. We believe that this is a conference not to be missed – it is just two nights away in comfortable en-suite accommodation. We would encourage you to make every effort to book as soon as possible and also to make the Conference as widely known as you can to others who may be interested. Please contact me if you require any further information.
4. Membership Subscriptions
We are very grateful to members who have already renewed their subscriptions for 2006-2007 (that were due on 1st April 2006). For those who still wish to do so, you will find a renewal slip with this copy of the Bulletin. We shall look forward to hearing from you.
5. Revd George Kime, BEd, MA
We are sad to report the death of our brother-in-Christ, George Kime, who was such an enthusiastic supporter of the Fellowship. We extend our sympathy to his wife Catherine and to his family, praying that they will all know the upholding of the Lord’s grace and mercy in the future days.
George Kime was a man with a variety of gifts who loved God with all his heart and mind. During his eventful life he worked in a colliery where, during a break in work, he read the life of John Wesley and was converted to Christ and given the full assurance of faith which he maintained throughout his life. George came to value the benefits of healthy exercise, often walking in the mountains - including climbing the Matterhorn. He even ran the London Marathon at the age of 62! George also embraced a love of photography and was a member of the Royal Photographic Society.
His real love was for preaching the gospel, and for the training of preachers, a work in which he was engaged for twenty years. He recognised preaching as both his greatest joy and highest privilege. He felt honoured to be counted as ‘one of Mr Wesley’s preachers’. With his experience and training he also enjoyed teaching Religious Studies in both Norwich and Halifax.
George was born in 1927 in the village of Thurnscoe at the heart of the South Yorkshire coalfield. As a child he was taken to the Methodist Central Hall where he learned the elements of the Christian message which was later to captivate his heart. George became a local preacher in 1946 and entered Handsworth College in 1949 to begin formal training for the ordained ministry. In addition to a BEd degree from London University, he graduated with an MA from the University of Leeds and, in his latter years, was engaged in PhD studies with Dr Henry D. Rack as his supervisor at Manchester University.
George served the Lord in circuits in England and Wales, at Pontypridd, Chatham, Doncaster, Skegness, Wainfleet, and London, before returning to Shipley and Bingley. George Kime was a family man, devoted to his four children and his grandchildren, and was never happier than when they were all around him. They, with his wife Catherine, were a source of great strength to him in his last months of illness. The Lord, whom George had loved and served throughout his long and active life, has called him home to his reward and we will miss him greatly - but our loss is his eternal gain. We thank God for giving to us the privilege of knowing this ‘servant of the Lord’.
The Late Revd Gordon Thomas
It is with sadness that we have to also report the death, after a long illness, of the Revd Gordon J. Thomas at his home in Manchester on Sunday 20 August 2006. Gordon had been ill with a malignant melanoma cancer. Sadly, it was only a short time after we had reported in the Spring WF Bulletin that Gordon had shown signs of remission, that he suffered a sudden serious relapse. We now need to continue our prayers for Gordon’s widow, Betty-May and his two children, Gideon and Abigail. Betty-May has written: “Gordon never blamed God for his condition and neither should we. He loved His Lord to the end….Gordon loved to teach and preach, serving on the mission field in Swaziland and at the Nazarene Theological College (NTC) in Manchester for over twenty years. He sought to stretch his students so that they reached their full potential….We have been especially grateful to all who have prayed and interceded for us…. A tribute to Gordon will be arranged, which will take the form of a garden area set aside for quiet contemplation at NTC. Should you wish to contribute to this memorial donations should be sent (and made payable to): Rev. Geoff Austin, 33 Hunters Lane, Watford. WD25 7BA U.K. …The future seems dark and frightening for us…but our hope is in God. Romans 8: 38-39”.
A Message from Wesley Fellowship members John and Pim Gibby, regarding John’s Mission to Bethlehem and the West Bank villages, 27 September to 11 October 2006
We are very thankful to the Lord for your Christian love, fellowship and prayerful support in times past - and we would value it again as we praise God for this recent opportunity to reach out to bring the love of Christ into many lives, especially those with special needs in the Middle East where there continues to be so much turmoil as war, terrorism and disputes rage. We thank the Lord that we have been able to represent His kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. On this visit…John stayed at the House of Hope, so that the blind folk and the children there with special needs could be encouraged, and also as a base to reach out to the surrounding villages. Please continue to pray…For the Special Needs Ministries, including the House of Hope, Jemima; The Sheepfold and The Home of Joy (Sami & Sarah); the local churches; Bethlehem Bible College; Emmanuel Bible Book Shop; and for God’s blessing on every local Palestinian believer. For the Garden Tomb ministry in East Jerusalem, and East Jerusalem Baptist Church.…For the current great needs of the Middle East, especially Lebanon, Iraq, the nation of Israel and the Palestinian communities….For all who know the Lord in the Holy Land, both Jews and Arabs, that they will be sustained and preserved in their witness to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
The Handmade of Piety: And Other Papers on Charles Wesley’s Hymns by Edward Houghton. The Wesley Fellowship in association with Quack’s Books, Petergate, York, 1992. pp.viii + 125. pbk. ISBN 0-948333111. Limited numbers of this now scarce book are available for £4.95 including postage, from Wesley Fellowship Book Sales, c/o Rev. Tony Tamburello, 13 Charles Street, Colne, Lancashire, BB8 0LY; Tel/Fax: 01282-859014.
This is an exquisite and comprehensive study of the hymns of Charles Wesley. These hymns, which we sing so often in our churches, have come down through the years imparting all the passion and zeal for evangelistic worship, yet because of their familiarity we so often do not think of their true meaning. The author of this book really brings out the real teaching in them until we begin to think again of their richness and the impact they can have on our lives.
Charles Wesley’s wonderful hymns take us through the church year from Advent to Trinity, bringing out the Christian knowledge of God, beginning with Christ Himself. Wesley’s hymns are almost totally about ‘Christ in all the Scriptures’. ‘Love Divine’ and ‘Wrestling Jacob’ are perhaps the best known, and like ‘O Thou Who Camest from Above’ (citing Leviticus 6: 13) and ‘Thou Shepherd of Israel, and Mine’ (Song of Solomon 1:7), these are all prayers to our Lord. These hymns are pure evangelistical Aminianism but with a touch of Calvinism, as for example in divine sovereignty, although it is applied as in ‘Thy Sovereign Grace to all extends’ and other hymns bearing this same emphasis. In the earlier phases of the Revival, the hymn writer wrote more of ‘the instantaneous blessing’, but his later hymns tend to speak more of progressive holiness and humility, such as perhaps ‘The Purest Saint that Lives below doth his own sanctity disclaim; The wisest owns, “I nothing know”, the holiest cries, “I nothing am”’. It is a delightful book, and a ‘must’, not only for Wesleyans, but for all those who have thrilled at singing at Easter ‘Christ the Lord is risen today’ and at Christmas that supreme carol, ‘Hark, the herald angels sing’. This is a gem of a book!
British Methodism: What Circuit Ministers Really Think. John M. Haley and Leslie J. Francis (Epworth, Peterborough, 2006. pp.x. 326, pbk. ISBN 0-716206145).
Considering that its findings are based on a recent empirical statistical survey of the views of British Methodist ministers, this is not only an important study but also a surprisingly readable book that should be of interest to a wider range of persons than its title might first suggest. The co-authors are our own WF member, Revd Dr John Haley (who is both a Methodist Circuit Minister in the Plymouth area and a Research Associate at the Welsh National Centre for Religious Education, University of Wales, Bangor), and the Revd Professor Leslie Francis (who is Director of the Welsh National Centre for Religious Education and Professor of Practical Theology in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Wales, Bangor). Its early chapters introduce the background to the research with a succinct overview of the history of British Methodism from its beginnings in John and Charles Wesley’s time. It then introduces the notion of ‘empirical theology’ and how it can be used as a scientific method of ‘testing matters of crucial concern to the ministry and mission of the church’. Due to the use of the resulting unique and carefully designed Methodist Circuit Ministers’ Survey, the book can claim some compelling authenticity because its analysis, discussion and conclusions use evidence received from responses by 1,339 (74%) of the British Methodist circuit ministers surveyed. The appendix shows the detailed statistical results from nearly five-hundred questions, grouped in about 70 tables, from the questionnaire used in the survey. The authors present illuminating evidence on what Methodist circuit ministers appear to think about subjects and issues connected with: worship & preaching, doctrinal diversity, multiple pastorates, and principles of itinerancy. The survey certainly brings out that stress levels among Methodist circuit ministers is very high - with nearly half claiming to be ‘exhausted’ by their work (rising to over 50% for ministers under the age of 46). The authors discuss possible causes for such stress levels (such as the growing strains of circuit ministry with fewer ministers, ageing membership, decaying buildings, and confused identity). The implications are not necessarily all gloomy because many ministers appear to be able to compensate for the exhaustion that stress may bring from the rich rewards and joy they receive from doing their challenging work. Nevertheless, the serious issues raised in this book should be a warning of the clear possibility that similar stress may be found in the ordained ministry generally, not just in Methodism. For church leaders (lay and ordained) to ignore the results from this survey could be considered not only as negligence towards ministers and their families but also lead to damage to the wider mission and witness of the church.
© The Wesley Fellowship 2006