Clowes and Bourne:
not perhaps household names even amongst Methodists,
and if you were not brought up in the Methodist tradition
you may be forgiven for wondering who they were.
Hugh Bourne and William Clowes were Methodist preachers
in the years immediately following the death of John Wesley in 1792.
They disagreed with the leaders
of the Wesleyan Methodist Church
and in the end they and the groups
who had gathered round them were thrown out.
The formed themselves into a number of groups
variously known as Ranters, Clowesites or Camp Methodists.
Their first significant gathering was at an open air Camp Meeting
at Mow Cop in Staffordshire on May 31st 1807 –
just 200 years ago last Thursday.
Within another three years the various dissident groups
had so grown in strength that they agreed to form a new denomination –
they called themselves the Primitive Methodists.
As the name implied, they were seeking to get back
to the initial reforming zeal of the early followers of Wesley.
Sadly the Methodist Church of
was in many places becoming increasingly rigid,
hierarchical and conservative –
it was becoming clergy dominated, male dominated,
pro-establishment, intellectually exclusive.
And often it chose to reflect and uphold the social divisions of society
rather than challenge them.
To take a simple example -
If you attended a Methodist Chapel in the early 1800s,
where you sat depended on how rich you were.
Pews and seats were rented out for an annual subscription –
and the better the seat, the dearer the season ticket.
So gone were the days when rich and poor mingled equally in God’s house –
now if you were a poor member of the working class,
you were directed to the free benches –
normally in the most obscure and uncomfortable part of the chapel.
Put that in the context of a
time of social unrest –
would the French revolution take hold in the UK?
Rich Wesleyan Methodists - sad to relate -
were often all too keen to reassure the government and the powers that be
that the Methodists would support the status quo
and - along with the Church of England -
would oppose any movements on behalf of the poor and the marginalised
which might threaten law and order.
Into this situation enter
William Clowes, Hugh Bourne
and the Primitive Methodists.
Now I have to declare an
interest here –
I come from Primitive Methodist stock, and I am proud of my roots.
But I mustn’t oversimplify.
There were many good and saintly Wesleyan Methodists –
not a few of whom helped found this chapel in 1813.
There were also Primitive Methodists whose opposition to order
sometimes led to debilitating anarchy.
But having said that,
the Primitive Methodists set out to recover
a powerful and important dimension of Methodist witness –
¨ In the
PM Chapels you typically found the working class
not on the edge but at the heart of the Church community
¨ In their
pulpits and in evangelical meetings
you would find men and women given equal position as preachers,
and you would find ministers and lay folk also given equal status.
¨ In the
increasing social struggles of the early 19th Century
Primitive Methodists were to be found at heart of many trade unions –
and on more than one occasion they were gaoled
for taking the side of the workers against the abuses of the bosses.
¨ The PMs remembered their roots in open air camp meetings
and emphasised the need to take the Gospel
into the highways and byways
and not hide it away behind locked chapel doors.
So the Primitive Methodist
Church flourished for over 100 years,
until in 1932, the different branches of Methodism finally reunited.
Since then we have all been the heirs
of the Primitive as well as the Wesleyan tradition.
Here ends the history lesson -
But what has all this to say to us in the Mint in 2007?
Let me suggest two things:
(linked not only to Methodist History but also to our reading from Isaiah).
The Primitive Methodists remind us about being:
Whole People of God
Let us recall that we are all people of unclean lips,
all sinners, all called by God.
God’s call is not just to one class or group of Christians – it is to us all –
all different, but all equally valued members of the Body –
regardless of our wealth or lack of it, our gender or sexuality,
or our role in the Church (whether lay or ordained).
Maybe my Primitive Methodist genes
when I say this to you –
I greatly valued my ordination –
setting me apart for the special work of the ministry -
it was a moving and affirming moment –
But if you were to ask me which means more to me –
my ordination at the Liverpool Conference in 1975,
or my reception into the membership of the Methodist Church
at Nottingham Central Hall in 1964 –
I would say my reception into membership –
Because that was when I committed myself
to be a part of God’s people,
as ministers and lay people united in common mission.
Together as one people we should say
(without differentiation or rank) here am I Lord, send me.
Here we are Lord, send us – to make disciple of all nations –
send us together as one united people.
alongside the Poor.
Like the Methodists of the early 19th Century,
we live in a world divided by wealth and class and status.
Like them we have to decide how to respond.
Many Wesleyan Methodists feared French style revolution
and so sided with the powers that be against the demands for reform.
In so doing they often turned their backs on the weak and the poor.
It was largely the Primitive Methodists who
(whilst also rejecting violence)
refused to accept the status quo
and campaigned and struggled for justice.
When you look at the news from
Germany this weekend,
you realize that our issues are not dissimilar from those 200 years ago.
Do we endorse and support the policies of the G8
and the rich selfish western governments –
for fear of aligning ourselves with violence and terror on the streets?
Or can we (like our brave sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe)
follow in the footsteps of our Primitive forebears
and oppose violence whilst at the same time
standing firm against the selfish and divisive policies of our governments?
Like Isaiah, we are called to proclaim good news -
and especially good news to the poor.
Thanks to the choir for their superb musical
rendition of Isaiah 6 –
for truly leading us with Isaiah into the awesome presence of the Lord.
God has many ways of revealing himself to us –
¨ For some
like Isaiah and John Wesley,
God comes in Temples and Chapels
¨ For some
like Moses before the Burning Bush
and those converted on Mow Cop hill,
he comes quite outside traditional religious meeting places.
But to all – somewhere, sometime, if we will but see
him, he comes,
to all he speaks and says:
¨ Follow me
¨ Tell Pharaoh to let my people go
¨ Bring good news to the poor
¨ Spread the Gospel to all nations
Today we thank God for all those encounters with
countless saints -
and pray that we in our time and place may also hear his word.
Finally let me take you back
exactly 100 years to 1907 –
when the Primitive Methodist Church celebrated its first centenary.
The PM Conference that year passed a special resolution.
Beautifully printed copies were widely distributed.
One such copy was given to a young
one of the ordinary saints of Methodism, my grandfather.
My grandmother passed it on to me,
and it remains one of my most prized possessions.
So in conclusion some of the words from that resolution,
in hopes that we may make them our own -
“...this conference places on
its profound sense of gratitude to Almighty God
for our existence as a Church....
It recalls the lowliness of our origin,
the difficulties that beset our earlier course,
the disadvantages and yet at the
same time the clearness of vision,
the steadfastness of purpose, the breadth of sympathy
the splendid heroism and unselfishness of the pioneers
who laid broad and deep the foundations on which we build.
The Conference is of one mind in
its grateful recollection
of the men whose names are inscribed high on the Church’s roll,
who served in exalted positions,
the great administrators and ecclesiastical statesmen
who shaped the Connexion’s policy in the past.
But not less gratefully does it
cherish the memory
of the nameless host who in town and village,
in quietness and obscurity, served
their day and generation
making society sweeter by their labours
and who looked for no reward on earth...”
So do we
give thanks for ordinary & extraordinary saints
who have brought us thus far -
and pray God that we may take our place amongst their number.
ORDER OF SERVICE
a.m. Trinity Sunday Service
led by Rev Andrew Sails
Bi-Centenary of the founding of Primitive Methodism
1. 거룩 거룩 거룩 전능하신 주여
2. 거룩 거룩 거룩 주의 보좌 앞에
3. 거룩 거룩 거룩 주의 빛난 영광
4. 거룩 거룩 거룩 전능하신 주여
All Age Ministry – Fay Sampson Priestley
Hymn SOF 40 “Be still” (주의 임재 앞에 잠잠해)
[David J. Evans © 1986 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music. CCLI No 58752]
[Young people leave for their own sessions]
Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8 (p. 690)
Choir: “I saw the Lord” by Stainer
I saw the Lord, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,
and his train filled the temple.
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings;
with twain he covered his face,
and with twain he covered his feet,
and with twain he did fly.
And one cried unto another,
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts:
the whole earth is full of his glory.
And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried,
and the house was filled with smoke.
O Trinity! O Unity!
Be present as we worship Thee,
And with the songs that angels sing
Unite the hymns of praise we bring.
Reading: Matthew 28:16-20 (p. 1001)
Hymn 791 “Father Son and Holy Ghost”
Sermon: “Clowes and Bourne”
Hymn NHWS 90 “Glory to thee, O God”
(Tune HAP 173 Love Unknown)
[Howard Gaunt © OUP CCLI No 58752]
Offertory and Dedication of Gifts
Prayers and Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 29 “Thou whose almighty word”
Concluding Voluntary: “Crown Imperial” – Walton