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Fetter Lane society, London

During a visit to England in the spring of 1738, Peter Böhler formed a group of eight young men belonging to religious societies in the City of London into a Moravian-style band. By October this had grown into a society of 56, divided into separate bands for youths and married men. The Wesley brothers, George Whitefield and Benjamin Ingham were all associated with it; and James Hutton was a key figure. They met weekly in a room off Fetter Lane for prayer and mutual confession of their faults. The members were Anglicans, but many features (e.g. the Love-feast) were derived from Moravianism and reappeared in the shape and ethos of Methodism.

Differences arose after a visit from the Moravian P.H. Molther. Disgusted by the groans and bodily contortions he witnessed, he advocated abstention from the means of grace until the believer knew he was fully sanctified, lest he should think he had earned his salvation. Failing to convince the society that this stillness was misguided teaching, John Wesley left the society in July 1740 and established his own society at the Foundery. Under the influence of A.G. Spangenberg, the society was formally settled as a Moravian congregation in 1742 and continued to meet off Fetter Lane until its 'Great Meeting House' (originally built by Elizabethan Puritans) was destroyed by bombing in 1941. In 1959 the congregation moved to Moravian Close, Chelsea.

Sources

  • J.N. Libbey, 'The Personnel of the Fetter Lane Society', in WHS Proceedings, 16 pp.144-47
  • Colin Podmore, in WHS Proceedings, 46 pp.125-53; 47 pp.156-86
  • Colin Podmore, The Fetter Lane Moravian Congregation, London 1742-1992 (1992)

Entry written by: MB
Category: Subject

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