Thursday, June 17, 2010

Checking the vital signs (3)

The Primitive Methodist centenary celebrations spanned the years 1907-1910. Outwardly they were a great success.

To the careful observer, however, the vital signs were showing the movement had reached a plateau. History tells us that the process of decline had begun.

H. B. Kendall puts it like this:
As tabulated, the spiritual results of the Centenary were disappointingly small. It had been hoped and expected that there would be a large ingathering into the Church.

“Was it too much,” it was asked, “to hope and expect that these years should bring up the membership to 250,000?” But it was not to be. … The Centenary years passed, and the returns showed only eighteen more members than in 1907, while the reports of the General Sunday School Union frankly and feelingly chronicled a decline. We say “feelingly,” because the pain it cost the writers to draw up these faithful reports cannot be hidden. They seem to have been written with a fluid more vital than ink. It was puzzling and disappointing this scanty spiritual harvest of the Centenary years. It was even humiliating.
The vital signs were saying something was wrong.

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