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Bands

Also known as 'band-societies', bands were introduced into Methodism in its early days and preceded the organization into classes. Admission was restricted to the converted, whereas the class meeting was also open to 'awakened sinners'.

The bands were modelled on what John Wesley had seen among the Moravians at Herrnhut. Men and women, married and single met in separate bands, numbering between five and ten, smaller than the classes. Advocated by Wesley as one of the 'prudential' means of grace, the bands met weekly to confess their faults to and pray for one another; but Wesley repudiated any comparison with the Roman Confessional. From 1741 admission was by band ticket, distinguished from the class-ticket by the addition of a letter 'b'.

In December 1738 (or possibly a year later) Wesley drew up 'Rules of the Band Societies', following these in 1744 by more explicit 'Directions for the Band Societies'. In 1764 he found it necessary to rebuke those who neglected to meet in band, and the searching demands of membership of a band meant that it steadily lost ground to the class meeting as Methodist discipline was relaxed. The phrase 'in band' is still occasionally used to denote confidential information.

Sources

  • History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain 1 pp.217-20; 4 pp.23-4, 71-2
  • WHS Proceedings, 22 pp.161-4
  • Kevin Watson, Pursuing Social Holiness: the Band Meeting in Wesley's Thought and Popular Methodist Practice, (Oxford, 2014)

Entry written by: JAV
Category: Subject

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