Monday, March 22, 2010

Two hundred years ago this month …

... in March 1810, the first Primitive Methodist society was formed.

By March 1810, under the ministry of Hugh Bourne, his brother James and their associates, a number of new converts were made in Standley, in North Staffordshire, some four miles from their home in Bemersley. A meeting on Wednesday evening 14 March resulted in the formation of a class of ten members, five men and five women. With Hugh Bourne as superintendent, the new converts at Standley were formed into a class. Joseph Slater was appointed leader.

The plan was for this class to be part of the Burslem circuit of the Wesleyan Methodists, but this was permitted only on the condition that the Bournes and their associates not be allowed to preach there. These conditions were not acceptable, and so this society became independent of the Wesleyans. In so doing they became the first and oldest society of the Primitive Methodist Connexion.

From this class of ten members grew a worldwide movement. A century later it consisted of nearly five thousand churches, sixteen thousand local preachers, over half a million Sunday school scholars and teachers, two hundred and ten thousand members, and six hundred thousand adherents.

The inscription on the back of the centenary plate give the precise details as follows:

Chapels & Preaching Places…. 4,905
Ministers …. 1,153
Local Preachers … 16,209
Church members … 210,173
Adherents … 607,682
Sunday Schools … 4209
Teachers … 61,275
Scholars …. 477,114
Value of property … £4,958,978

Notes: the Centenary spanned 1907 - 1910. 1907 was the centenary of the first Camp Meeting at Mow Cop, and 1910 was the centenary of the first society. The place name referred to as Standley is almost certainly now known as Stanley (near to Endon and Bemersley).

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