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Church Methodists

This was a name used after Wesley's death to describe those Methodists who, saw themselves still as Anglicans and wished to preserve the link with the Church of England that Wesley had continued to stress, despite his successive irregularities. They were also sometimes referred to as the 'Old Planners'. Their equivalent in Ireland was the movement known as Primitive Wesleyan Methodism.

Reluctance to sever ties with the Church was particularly in evidence among the more affluent members of society, including many of the trustees. Some, like Henry Durbin of Bristol and William Hey of Leeds, left the connexion. Both during Wesley's lifetime and into the next century they were more numerous than has often been supposed and even after the Plan of Pacification some town chapels were slow to introduce the Lord\'s Supper.

As Wesleyanism developed into a separate denomination, they were increasingly in a minority, but their influence lingered on through much of the nineteenth century, marked by the use of Wesley's adaptation of Morning Prayer in some of the more prestigious town chapels and a reluctance to identify Methodism with the Free Churches. In some rural areas Methodism was seen as a supplement, rather than an alternative, to the parish church and some Methodist families attended both church and chapel. As the century progressed, this situation was eroded by the spread of Anglo-Catholicism and changed clerical attitudes to nonconformity.

What John C. Bowmer calls 'the last stand of Church Methodism' was a protest movement in the Beverley area. This was led by Mark Robinson of Hull, who published Observations on the System of Wesleyan Methodism (1824) and built a short-lived chapel at Cherry Burton.

Sources

  • George Smith, History of Wesleyan Methodism (1859-61) 3, pp. 81-87
  • Oliver Beckerlegge, 'The Church Methodists', in WHS Proceedings 34 (1963) pp.63-66
  • John C. Bowmer, Pastor and People (1975) pp.75-80
  • Gareth Lloyd, '"Croakers and Busybodies": the extent and influence of Church Methodism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries', in Methodist History, 42:1 (October 2003) pp.20-32
  • Gareth Lloyd, Charles Wesley and the struggle for Methodist Identity (Oxford, 2007)
  • Edward Royle, 'When did the Methodists Stop attending their Parish Churches?', in WHS Proceedings, 56:6 (2008), pp. 275-96

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