Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How the Primitive Methodists sent a missionary to Australia

In June 1840, two Primitive Methodist laymen, John Rowlands and John Wiltshire arrived in Adelaide. They quickly formed a Primitive Methodist society, and opened a chapel. In 1841, they wrote to the English Primitive Methodist circuits of Darlaston and Oswestry requesting them to send a missionary to Australia, pleading “the society is crying out for a missionary”.

Such a request was clearly beyond the means of two of England’s strongest circuits and indeed of the missionary committee of the church as a whole. They had no funds to raise the considerable amount to send a missionary to the ends of the earth. How could such an expensive request be fulfilled?

Then in 1843, the leaders of the Bottesford circuit near Nottingham suggested the money for an Australian mission could be raised by asking the 70,000 children in Primitive Methodist Sunday-schools to give or collect one penny a year. This children’s crusade was successful, and in June 1844 two ministers, Joseph Long and John Wilson, were appointed to South Australia.

One penny a year times 70,000. That’s how the first Primitive Methodist missionaries came to Australia.

Abridged from “This Side of Heaven”, by Arnold D. Hunt, pages 57-59.

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