Chairman Peter Staples announced the start of the meeting at 1030a.m. advising that four apologies had been received.
In ” Initial Notices” the third call for the A.G.M. on Tuesday April 25th 2017 was made with any “proposals/ officers to elect nominations” to Secretary Neil Ramshaw by Tuesday April 11th 2017. Bookings were still being accepted by Programme Secretary John Taylor for the 40th Anniversary Lunch on Tuesday May 2nd 2017 with again Tuesday April 11th 2017 being the cut off date for orders and payments to be received by him.
Today the Forum was delighted to welcome our President Reverend Christine Gillespie to the annual President’s Morning , the third such occasion where we have enjoyed her company. Her talk today was predicated on the early history of Methodism and Reverend Christine framed her discourse around the following twenty words:
“The early Methodists were a choir formed by John Wesley to sing the hymns of Charles and to live accordingly”
Methodism was originally an insult directed at a small group at Oxford University who gathered together to meet and talk and leading figures included Charles Wesley and George Whitefield and became known as the “Holy Club”. John Wesley joined the group and quickly became recognised as its leader due to his strong organisational skills. He preached, making converts and then organised the groups into “Societies” but still all part of the Anglican Church. He in fact held his own 5a.m. Sunday morning services (Methodist) which allowed people to attend Anglican Communion later. As well as Societies he set up bands(5/10 people) to listen/discuss and support each other and these were open to all classes of people. Wesley’s organising skills went wider with three Circuits established, that he travelled around, he being the Superintendent with Circuit Assistants who became Superintendents as numbers increased.
A National Conference was organised annually which took upon itself a leadership role when John Wesley died.
George Whitefield set an example of field preaching outdoors which was taken up by the early Methodists who would also look to spread education and formed schools. These travelling preachers had a small library of books with them. John Wesley borrowed and used services in early Methodism such as the Covenant Service and the New Years Eve Night Watch Service. Although always denying he started a new Church and claiming to be a loyal Anglican, Wesley nevertheless ordained Ministers to go to America. (which others in the Anglican Church would not do!!)
Methodism was born in song but with strict instructions as to how hymns were to be sung and those hymns were for personal devotion as well as public singing.
Some Anglican clergy barred Methodists from the traditional Church and communion so Methodists started to hold separate communion. Services had a preponderance to play Charles Wesley hymns (prolific writer of about 6,000 approx) and with a tremendous variety in their construction. Encouraging people to read saw the use of “lined” hymns but as literacy improved these died out. His hymns were about salvation for all, personal faith and funereal style..
The ” Live Accordingly” ethos resulted from John Wesley’s 1738 conversion and in response to the joy that had been given by God bolstered by phrases such as ” Temperance turns Beer into Furniture” encouraging duty, hard work and thrift.
Forum Members had enjoyed a morning of interesting and entertaining social history but with a Religious slant appropriate to the environment and Speaker. A number of pertinent questions and comments from the audience enhanced the proceedings.
The Vote Of Thanks was given by George Thomas on behalf of the thirty-seven attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY