In May 1811, two separate groups, Hugh Bourne’s Camp Meeting Methodists and William Clowes’ group (the Clowesites) agreed to join forces. In so doing, a new denomination was born, although they had no formal name.
On May 26 they gathered in Mr. Smith’s kitchen, and agreed on the rudimentary organisation of the new denomination. They agreed that two itinerant preachers, James Crawfoot and William Clowes, would be maintained by the contributions of the joint societies. These travelling preachers were missionaries who went from place to place, preaching in the open-air, in public spaces, such as market places, farmers’ fields or any available location.
The new movement had a basic form of organisation. It had distinctive characteristics, namely zealous and vehement prayer with a strong evangelistic focus. They were passionate about preaching the gospel. Their methods including loud shouting and singing, open-air preaching and Camp Meetings. They inherited the Methodist structure of classes, societies, circuits and local preachers.
From such humble origins began a movement that dramatically changed lives and communities in England and well beyond.