Stéphanie Prévost’s Reflections on Her MWRC Visiting Fellowship

A Reflection on the Value of Research Time and Space—and Access to Resources

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From late March through early May 2019, I was very privileged to spend six wonderful weeks as the Joint Manchester Wesley Research Centre/John Rylands Research Institute Visiting Research Fellow. My project was entitled ‘The Liberal Non-Conformist Conscience and the Eastern Question: Appraising the Liberal Internationalist Turn. An Investigation in Methodist, Congregationalist & Quaker Circles and Print (1875-1915)’ and is part of a broader forthcoming monograph project on British Liberals/liberals and the Eastern Question at the turn of the twentieth century.

The value of such a span of concentrated research time is invaluable in the life of the lecturer-researcher. The fellowship enables researchers to explore unexplored aspects of Methodism by offering dedicated access to Methodist Archives and Research Centre at the John Rylands Library (in central Manchester). Lodging and a small stipend are also generously provided by the Manchester Wesley Research Centre (MWRC) located Nazarene Theological College (NTC). The awardee is hosted on the campus of the NTC, which is located in Didsbury, in a peaceful and restful suburb of Manchester. Not only a haven for research (with splendid grounds) and the hub of a lively community, the NTC harbours the MWRC, whose library and archive wonderfully complement the John Rylands collection. The MWRC/NTC also runs a weekly research seminar, which allocates time and space for thriving debates on topical historiographical developments of Methodist/Wesleyan religious thought and history with presenters and participants. These are ideal conditions for conducting research on Methodism and the daily commuting between Didsbury and central Manchester (approx. 40 mins) offers further time for reflection or relaxation.

In the course of the preparation of the application and of the stay, Geordan Hammond, director of the MWRC, was most helpful, as were Jane Gallagher (librarian who looks after the Methodist periodical collection at the John Rylands) and Helen Stocker (NTC librarian). The research involved consulting manifold Methodist, Congregationalist, and Quaker periodicals, mostly held at the John Rylands, to try to appraise the impact of crises in the Ottoman Empire, and in particular the Armenian massacres of 1894-1896, on the Liberal ideology, mindset and practices and examine its relation to the internationalist turn visible in the British Liberal conscience and Nonconformist conscience at the time (especially amongst Radical Holiness Methodist circles). The patience and expertise of the reading room’s staff at the John Rylands Library helped me make the most of my research time and verify various hypotheses. Exchanges with David Bundy, Associate Director of the MWRC, who currently researches the Radical Holiness movement’s pre-WWI connections with Ottoman Armenians, offered sharp insights into the complex landscape and overlap of turn-of-the-century Methodist groups and their relations with other denominations. Owing to time, space, hitherto unexamined resources and fruitful exchanges, I am continuing this research by looking at missionary periodicals (especially Methodist) held elsewhere, and will present a paper at the 2019 Methodist Studies Seminar, which coincides with the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Nazarene Theological College and will focus on the history and theology of the Holiness Movement in the UK. It is entitled: ‘Practical Christianity and Methodist Advocacy for Ottoman Armenians (1894-1915)’. Again, I am most grateful to the award board for all the opportunities opened up by the fellowship, which wonderfully coincided with a research leave awarded by the CNRS (French research national agency) for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Dr Stéphanie Prévost is Senior Lecturer in 19th-century British History and Culture, Faculty of English Studies, Université de Paris / LARCA (CNRS UMR 8225)

Kimberly Ervin Alexander’s Reflections on Her MWRC Visiting Research Fellowship

A Reflection on the Value of Research Time and Space—and Access to Resources

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From the end of June through August 9, for six wonderful weeks, I was privileged to work as Visiting Research Fellow of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre. My project, ‘Bearing Witness: Spirit Baptism in the Life of the Pentecostal and Her Community’, is an ongoing one which will culminate in a monograph examining the personal and communal meaning and significance of the experience of Spirit baptism for the Wesleyan-Pentecostal tradition. Oddly enough, little research has been done on how early Pentecostals actually experienced what is arguably the major distinctive of the movement.

For a number of years, I’ve been working through early Pentecostal periodicals which have now been digitized and are easily accessed, and have been able to publish an article here, a chapter there out of that research. But what is increasingly and painfully absent from my vocation as a scholar is the time and space to do such work. For many of us who work in Christian higher education, especially in Evangelical institutions, teaching loads are increasing while research time and travel funds are decreasing. 

The value of six weeks of concentrated research time and space is inestimable in the life of the teacher-scholar. To be awarded this fellowship which provided lodging, access to archives, and a small stipend for weekly food expenses was a wonderful gift to me. In some ways, it was a gift of sanity! When one feels called to teach, but also to research and write, an imbalance in those three facets of one’s vocation—three facets that require integration—is quite frustrating and disorienting. So, the gift of time and space, is invaluable and allows the scholar to reorient herself.

As a Wesleyan-Pentecostal, it’s important for me to discover the connections and resonances between Wesleyan and Holiness movements and early Pentecostalism. The Nazarene Theological College/Church of the Nazarene in Great Britain Archives provided an unexpected link, one that brought much of what I knew intuitively into focus, providing real evidence, and, deconstructed what some other historians had erroneously assumed. The archives hold a full run of Tongues of Fire, a periodical published by the Pentecostal League of Prayer (PLP). Though this was a Wesleyan organization and not identified with the emerging Pentecostal movement, it is significant because the Anglican vicar Alexander A. Boddy, leader of the Pentecostal movement in England, convener of the Sunderland Conferences, and publisher of Confidence, was a member of the PLP for years and served as secretary of the organization for the north of England; further, he was a speaker at their annual conferences. So, access to this periodical, which has not been digitized, gave me real insight into Boddy’s own spiritual formation as well as to his vision for the Pentecostal movement, which, I now believe, was based on the PLP model. This has not been explored by Pentecostal historians to date. In fact, the assumption has been that Boddy was influenced by the Keswick movement, with little evidence to support that thesis. Boddy’s Wesleyan influences had all but been ignored. I must add that it was in conversations with David Bundy that pointed me to Tongues of Fire. Being able to read through these issues, in that space provided, for days on end, gave me a lens through which to read testimonies of Pentecostal experience in Sunderland, and those experienced elsewhere in Europe and reported on by Boddy in Confidence.

Because of this time and space, and these hitherto unexamined resources (at least they are unexamined by Pentecostal scholars to this point!), I will be able to give a plenary presentation at the 2019 meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. The title of that address is ‘Receiving the Spirit in the Early Pentecostal Body: Sanctification, Spirit Baptism, and the Lamb Slain for Sinners.’ It was in Sunderland that these connections were made most prominently and it is because of the time, space, and resources provided through the MWRC fellowship, that I was able to see them.

Dr Kimberly Ervin Alexander is Associate Professor of the History of Christianity, School of Divinity, Regent University (Virginia). 

Sarah Lancaster's Reflections on Her MWRC Visiting Research Fellowship

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I was able to spend three weeks of a one semester sabbatical at MWRC doing research for volume 14 of the Bicentennial edition of Wesley’s Works. The material I needed to work on pertains to John Wesley’s interactions with the Moravians. The Methodist Collection at the John Rylands Library had all the 18th century sources I needed to study.

The focus of this volume is doctrinal controversies, and the specific doctrinal controversy that ties the writings together was antinomianism. The interactions John Wesley had with immigrant Moravians and English Methodists who were attracted to Moravian theology and practice deeply shaped his ideas about how faith and works interact in the way of salvation. Disagreements were quite public as opponents published tracts to put forward ideas or respond to opponents. The Rylands has in its collection many tracts that are now in delicate condition. The Rylands reading room was the perfect place to work with these materials. The librarians always had my requested items ready for me to work on, even when one of the items I requested turned out to have been miscatalogued.

Although I was here for a short period of time, I was able to do a great deal of research. I stayed at Nazarene Theological College, and from there I had easy access to the Rylands Library by tram. When I was not at the Rylands, the NTC library and Wesley Research Centre allowed me access to materials such as the other volumes of the Bicentennial Wesley Works and histories of the Moravian Church so that I could check any details I might be uncertain about. The situation worked quite well for me to get a good grounding for the remaining work I will do on my sabbatical.

NTC is also only half a mile from the village businesses, so it was easy to walk to get food from markets or restaurants or to go to the bank.

I was fortunate to be at the MWRC when Didsbury held its Heritage Open Days. For one weekend, the Didsbury Civic Society hosted an event where places of historic interest opened their doors to the community for free tours. Nazarene Theological College was one of the listed places of interest. I was able to join the tour to learn more of the history of the school and the historic buildings on the grounds.

Alan Guenther's Reflections on His John Rylands Research Institute-MWRC Joint Visiting Fellowship

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Hymn Books at the John Rylands Library

This summer I had the opportunity to spend six weeks in Manchester studying Methodist hymn books published in Britain in the 19th century. I had applied for and received a Visiting Fellowship jointly offered by the Manchester Wesley Research Centre and the John Rylands Research Institute. The MWRC is located at the Nazarene Theological College in Didsbury, a suburb of Manchester, and this became my home while I commuted to the John Rylands Library in the heart of the city.

The library was founded in 1900 by the widow of John Rylands, a very wealthy industrialist, and is a beautiful neo-Gothic structure. But aside from its beauty, it houses some major collections drawing researchers from around the world. The collections that interested me were those in the Methodist Archives and Research Centre, particularly the vast collection of Methodist hymn books.

Although I love singing (especially the hymns of Charles Wesley!), the study of hymnology is quite a departure from my usual research interests of the histories of Islam, of Christian-Muslim relations, and of the missionary movement. But there is a connection. When I applied for the Fellowship, I had hoped to continue the work I had started the previous summer when I had looked at hymn books published by Methodist missionaries from the United States working among Muslims in North India. But Sarah May, Manager of the JRRI, responded to my initial proposal by suggesting I revise it because the hymnal collection included very little non-European material.

And so I began thinking about analyzing the globalization of Methodist worship, tracing the growth of the missionary section in the hymnals and the inclusion of other hymns and songs composed outside of Europe. Jane Gallagher who curates the Methodist print collection at the JRL was very helpful in providing a list of over 1800 hymn books in the collection. I submitted a revised proposal and shortly thereafter received confirmation that I had been awarded the fellowship.

I arrived in Manchester in the middle of June, and after Geordan Hammond, Director of MWRC, oriented me to the Centre and the Nazarene Theological College in general, I began my daily commute to the JRL and my study of the hymnals. I was fascinated to discover that within six years of John Wesley’s death in 1791, the Methodist movement began to splinter into various groups such as the Methodist New Connexion (1797), the Primitive Methodists (1810), and the Bible Christians (1815), and that each of the groups published their own hymn book. A subsequent division in the Primitive Methodists led to the formation of the Female Revivalists led by two women preachers, also with their own hymn book.

While the hymns of Charles Wesley continued to dominate all the hymn books, the splinter groups were quicker to compose or adopt other hymns than were the main body of Wesleyan Methodists. In particular the Primitive Methodists appear to have been most open to adopting camp-meeting style songs from America; indeed, it was their support for camp meetings that had led to their rejection by the main body of Methodists.

As for the missionary emphasis, I was wondering what impact the formation of the Wesleyan Missionary Society in 1813 would have on the songs Methodist congregations sang. In the first significant revision to John Wesley’s Collection of Hymns in 1831, the main group of Methodists did add a section entitled “On the Establishment and Extension of the Kingdom of Christ,” which consisted entirely of songs by Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts. The other Methodist groups similarly added sections on missions but drew from more eclectic sources.

The question could be asked, “Why bother with studying hymn books when they seem to have been replaced by projectors and screens in many churches?” While it is true that at one time the use of hymn books was as much an innovation as the introduction of PowerPoint at the end of the 20th century, hymn books have an important role in the history of the Church.

In my research I learned the following:

1.      Hymn books provide unity to a movement or denomination in that all can sing the same songs.

2.      At the same time, they also are means of ecumenical unity as songs that are well loved easily cross denominational boundaries.

3.      Hymn books also provide continuity with the Church in previous generations in that the songs written and sung by believers in the past are available to be sung in the present.

4.      At the same time, they can be the means of change as new songs are written and are included in subsequent revisions.

5.      Hymn books are the expression of what the congregations find meaningful in their corporate and private devotion.

6.      At the same time, they also lead and direct the congregations in their worship.

7.      Hymn books are often comprehensive in the topics covered, providing not only means of praise but also teaching for discipleship and doctrine.

8.      At the same time, they also are documentary evidence of changes in theology, in Christian practice, and in relationship to contemporary culture.

The global spread of hymn books through the missionary movement indicates their cross-cultural importance. While many of the early hymnbooks in mission regions consisted of translated Western hymns, it was not long before the music and poetry of the indigenous churches were integrated. However, the reverse influence has been much slower as British hymn books, in particular, were much slower in adopting hymns produced by Christians from other parts of the world.

As my time in Manchester drew to a close, I had some significant conversations with David Bundy, Associate Director of the MWRC, and other faculty and staff at the NTC about other possible directions to go in future research. One particular idea that appeals to me is to compare missionary hymn books prepared by my own denomination, the Free Methodists, with similar hymnbooks published by Methodists in Britain, the States, India (Hindustani), and Canada (Cree), looking at who was involved in composing hymns and in selecting the hymns to be included, and looking at the impact the hymn books had in shaping the Church.

I will close with a quotation from John Wesley’s original introduction to the first edition of A Collection of Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists (1780):

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Christopher Evans’s Reflections on His John Rylands Research Institute-MWRC Joint Visiting Fellowship


My research centred on transatlantic Methodism in the late nineteenth century, focusing on the rise of the Deaconess Movement. I was especially interested in studying the role of British Methodist “sisterhoods” formed in the 1880s, culminating with the establishment of the Wesley Deaconess Institute in the Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1890. During the six weeks of my fellowship, I examined how these women contributed to what I consider to be a vital, yet overlooked, component for understanding the development of Methodism’s social witness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The John Rylands Library has an extensive collection of materials related to Wesleyan Deaconesses, including personal papers, correspondences, and several diaries/journals kept by different women. Additionally, the examination of important periodicals, such as the Methodist Times and Flying Leaves (the early twentieth-century journal of the Wesleyan Methodist Deaconess Movement), provided an invaluable look into the lives of these women and their work.

Part of what I discovered in my research was the extent that these late nineteenth century Methodist women were influenced by the international women’s temperance movement. While striving to get people to sign “the pledge” (a vow that individuals would abstain from buying and consuming alcohol), Methodist women in cities like Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, and London saw alcohol abuse connected with larger problems of late nineteenth-century urbanization.

The highlight of my research occurred when Rylands archivist, Gareth Lloyd uncovered a diary kept by a Wesleyan Methodist Deaconess, Jeanie Banks. The diary, covering the years from 1888 to 1893, provides a vivid depiction of her work at the Wesleyan Methodist East End London Mission. In detail, Banks discusses her weekly routines of teaching children, leading open air revivals, and most especially, the door-to-door visitation that represented the backbone of Deaconess work. Banks, and other Deaconess women, took to heart John Wesley’s belief that ministry could not be accomplished by proxy. That is, one needed to be exposed to the living conditions of those who struggled with poverty.

What I took away from reading Banks’s journal, as well as reading the narratives of other Deaconess women, is that understanding the development of late nineteenth century Methodism moves beyond formal theologies. These women were anchored in a passionate commitment to lead their communities to Christian conversion. Yet their beliefs were often forged out of the multiple roles that they took on as teachers, preachers, social workers, and community activists. As they shared their understanding of Christianity, they also strove to provide urban poor a sense of personal agency and self-worth.  

My research will not only contribute to a transatlantic understanding of the Deaconess Movement, but also show how late nineteenth-century Methodist women were able to create the space within male-dominated church structures to engage in visionary forms of ministry. My time in Manchester will contribute to several articles that explore the history and work of the Deaconess movement, as well as to a book project on the International Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and its charismatic Methodist leader, Frances E. Willard.

Dr Chris Evans is Professor of History of Christianity and Methodist Studies at Boston University School of Theology.

Bill Wood's Reflections on his Point Loma Nazarene University-MWRC Visiting Fellowship

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I enjoyed a very productive two months in Manchester and am extremely grateful for the opportunity provided by the Manchester Wesley Research Centre. My research ultimately involved three distinct tracks.

In the John Rylands Library I focused on exploring the activity of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society in the Islamic world, specifically Central Asia and South Asia, in the 19th and early 20th centuries. While I made some significant progress in identifying key individuals, in particular J.A. Elliott of Faizabad in northern India, via the rare published materials held in the Rylands collection, it is evident that key information regarding Wesleyan missionaries is likely concentrated in the archives held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. I hope to make a follow-up visit to England to explore this collection to supplement the work I began this summer in Manchester.

A second track involved the Brethren Archives held at the University of Manchester. Again, I focused on missionaries active in Islamic Central Asia and South Asia. This archive proved to be especially rich as the excellent staff directed me to as yet uncatalogued journals and diaries produced by the Brethren missionary E.H. Broadbent during two visits to Russian Turkestan (in 1900 and again in 1907), as well as correspondence from Mennonites in Central Asia down to the October Revolution. I am hoping to publish an article on this activity and perhaps an edited edition of Broadbent’s 80 page journal from 1900, which is potentially a very interesting primary source for this period.

My third track dealt with an older research project of mine on Rev. Joseph Wolff, a Jewish convert and missionary, initially with the Christian Mission to the Jews and later as an independent, who traveled throughout the Islamic world in the 19th century. I was able to consult letters and other archival material concerning Wolff during day trips to the archives in Birmingham and Nottingham, and in a week-long trip to the British Library in London to consult the India Office holdings archived there. These were very fruitful endeavors and have opened up further research tracks that I hope will eventually lead to a monograph on Wolff’s career.

Throughout my time in Manchester I enjoyed the excellent hospitality and stimulating intellectual environment of the Wesley Research Centre and the Nazarene Theological College, both staff and faculty. I cannot imagine a more welcoming scholarly environment and look forward to future opportunities to work together.

William Wood
Professor of History
Point Loma Nazarene University

Dr David Bundy named Associate Director of the MWRC

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The MWRC is pleased to announce that Dr. David Bundy, Research Professor of World Christian Studies at New York Theological Seminary, has accepted the role of associate director of the MWRC, commencing January 2017.

Bundy will work alongside Director Dr. Geordan Hammond and two administrative assistants to carry out the day-to-day work of the centre, as well as plan events and work with the centre’s 13 partner institutions.

“I have been very impressed with the use of resources, the quality of work that is done in and around the MWRC, and the positive influence it has had in the UK, but also beyond, and the vast network of connections,” Bundy said. “I hope that I can entice some of my friends to also consider the MWRC as a locus for some of their interests and projects and a place where they can find help. I hope we can find more doctoral students to work with the resources that are here in Manchester – both people resources and other intellectual resources. My goal is not to remake anything but to help support the good things I see going on.”

For the last six years, Bundy has lived primarily in Europe so that he could pursue research on the development of holiness movements in France, Britain and Scandinavia. He and his wife, Nancy, call southern California their North American home.

Having grown up attending holiness churches in the United States, Bundy initially wrote a book on Keswick while serving on the faculty at Asbury Theological Seminary, where he taught Greek and Hebrew. His interest has developed into a life work around discovering and promoting a deeper understanding of the history of holiness and Pentecostal movements around the world, and their relationships to one another.

“I was initially curious if there is anything beyond [American holiness movements], and what it is and how would it relate to us,” he said. “It has been a series of wonderful discoveries of the lives, thought and histories of interesting people and movements.

After earning his M.Div. and Th.M. from Asbury, he relocated to Belgium, where he held a Licentiate in Oriental Philology and History at Université Catholique de Louvain, studying and teaching there for 11 years as well as conducting research on Syriac, Armenian, Arabic and Middle Eastern Christian studies.

During those years, his interest in European holiness and Pentecostal history led him to found two Pentecostal organizations and a journal (now the Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association), all of which continue. Additionally, he earned a Ph.D. in European Pentecostal history in 2009 from Uppsala University.

“I recognized that the holiness background in Europe was badly understood by all concerned,” he said. “I started to do some pushing on that in Scandinavia and Belgium and the Netherlands and just a tiny bit in England. I mapped out very carefully what those relationships were, how they evolved in ways that were very different from the North American experiences of the USA, Canada and Mexico.”

Grants allowed him to continue his work in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and in France. He has been an invited lecturer in 44 countries, and taught graduate-level courses in 28 countries. 

In 2015 Bundy was a Visiting Fellow with MWRC, spending six weeks exploring in the Nazarene Theological College (NTC) archives and other repositories across the United Kingdom, researching “The British Roots of the Korean and Japanese Holiness Churches.” Bundy is now working toward a book on holiness movements in the UK, 1870-1920.

The Bundys will reside in Manchester through July 2017, to continue his research and to learn more about NTC and the MWRC.

“When you’re deeply involved in [research] for personal reasons, as well as for institutional reasons, it gives one a more complete perspective on what one is representing to one’s colleagues and friends around the world. And I hope it makes me more useful to people who are here doing research.”

“We’re honoured that Dr. Bundy has chosen to invest his time and talents into the MWRC,” said Dr. Hammond. “His astonishingly wide networks of scholars and church leaders in the Wesleyan traditions and beyond have already begun to bless the Centre.”

Dr Bundy has authored Keswick (1975, 1983, 2012), Visions of Apostolic Mission (2009), and has contributed to reference works, including the Dictionnaire d’histoire et de gegraphie ecclesastiques, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, Anchor Bible Dictionary, Dictionary of Religion in America,  The Blackwell Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Mission Legacies, Dictionary of Missionary Biography, International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, and Norsk pinsekristendom og karismatisk fornyelse. He has served on the boards of the European Pentecostal Theological Association, North American Patristic Society, American Theological Library Association, Wesleyan Theological Society, and Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative, among other corporations and educational institutions. 

David Bebbington's Reflections on his JRRI-MWRC Visiting Fellowship

I was grateful to be awarded the John Rylands Research Institute/MWRC Joint Visiting Fellowship for 2016. In the autumn of 2016 I had research leave from the University of Stirling and so was able to spend time in Manchester during the latter part of the year as well as during the summer.

My project was designed to investigate Methodist growth in the British Isles during the Victorian era. That entailed studying overall denominational strategies and, as case-studies of growth, two areas where Methodism was strong and where evidence was readily available. The aim was to collect a large body of data from the Methodist Archives kept at the John Rylands Library on these topics. The correspondence of Jabez Bunting and other Wesleyan ministers proved less illuminating than had been hoped because the sources contained little about strategy. Home Mission annual reports, however, were much more informative, supplying sufficient evidence to prepare a paper on ‘The Mid-Victorian Revolution in Wesleyan Methodist Home Mission’, which was delivered at Nazarene Theological College in November 2016.

Thanks to a member of staff at the John Rylands Library, I discovered five boxes of papers relating to Methodism in the Shetland Isles, an area I had already intended to investigate as a case-study of home mission. The boxes contained the papers of James Loutit, the mainland representative of Shetland Methodism for much of the time between the 1840s and the 1870s. Loutit kept every in-letter, made a copy of every out-letter and despatched them all in 1877 to the Mission House, from which they have come down to Methodist Archives. The string on many of the bundles had never been untied. This collection gave an insight into the real workings of Methodism on the ground such as is unavailable, I believe, for any other part of nineteenth-century Methodism. It therefore constituted treasure trove for the current project and so I spent a large proportion of my time at Manchester examining its contents. The boxes also turned out to contain details of a campaign run by Loutit to alter the relations of landlord and tenant in Shetland that ultimately led to the important Crofters’ Act of 1886. This political effort, hitherto unknown to the secondary literature, was an unexpected find. It is an example of what the rich resources of the Methodist Archives have to offer.

In addition, a visit from Manchester to Leeds at an early stage in the project established that the West Yorkshire Archives contain ample records of Victorian Methodism in that city. I have made several visits to the archives to explore Leeds as a case-study of Methodist home mission alongside the Shetland Isles. On a couple of days when the John Rylands Library was not open, I was able to use the Wesley Research Centre at the Nazarene College, finding useful sources by looking along the shelves. I also enjoyed meeting friends old and new from the college, the university, and elsewhere to discuss matters relating to Methodist history.

The project will continue with research on other areas, but the time spent in Manchester was extremely productive. It is planned to lead to several articles and eventually to a monograph on Victorian Methodist home mission.

Prof David Bebbington is Professor of History at University of Stirling and an Honorary Fellow of the MWRC.

Deadline for Visiting Fellowships 16 January, 2017

The deadline for applications for the MWRC Visiting Fellowships is fast approaching. There are two visiting fellowships through the MWRC with a deadline of 16 January, 2017.

The first is the 2017 MWRC Visiting Fellow Programme. This programme, in its fifth year, has allowed post-doctoral scholars, such as Dr Priscilla Pope-Levison, to visit the MWRC, the Methodist Archives and Research Centre at the John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester Library, and the Nazarene Theological College’s Hugh Rae Library, all while in residence at the Nazarene Theological College’s beautiful campus for six weeks.

The second fellowship is the 2017 John Rylands Research Institute-MWRC Joint Visiting Fellowship. This programme provides post-doctoral scholars, such as Dr David Bebbington, six weeks of accommodation at the Nazarene Theological College and a bursary of £150 to cover expenses while researching at the Methodist Archives and Research Centre at the John Rylands Library. Details are located at the John Rylands Research Institute webpage.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply. More information can be found here. All additional inquiries may be made to the MWRC Postgraduate Assistant at

Congratulations to PhD Graduates

The MWRC would like to congratulate Junior Fellows who completed their doctorates at The University of Manchester/Nazarene Theological College during the 2015-16 academic year; in Wesley Studies: Klaus Arnold, Jim Coleman, Steve Johnson, and Mark Olson; and in Biblical Studies: James Romano and Linda Stargel. Click here for details about their work.

James Pedlar’s Reflections on his MWRC Visiting Fellowship

It was a privilege to spend six weeks at the Manchester Wesley Research Centre as a Visiting Research Fellow for the summer of 2016. My work focused on early Primitive Methodism. I am interested in the development of Wesleyan ecclesiology, especially as related to issues of renewal, unity, and division. The Primitive Methodists are of interest as the first major revivalistic breakaway from Wesleyan Methodism. I focused my time primarily on the unpublished and published writings of Hugh Bourne, co-founder of the Primitive Methodist Connexion. 

Bourne and the other Primitive Methodists were very keen to clear themselves of the charge of schism. In doing this they stressed both their continuity with early Methodism and the novelty of their movement as a body of newly-evangelized people. I am looking at the arguments Bourne used to defend against the charge of schism and the theology of the church that underlies those arguments. I am also considering the interesting mix of influences that can be seen in Bourne’s theology. As was the case with many later nineteenth-century Wesleyan revivalists, Bourne was strongly influenced by John Fletcher. But he was also shaped by his contacts with the Quaker Methodists of Warrington, the “Magic Methodists” of Delamere Forest and other Independent Methodists and revivalists. His spirituality had a strong pneumatocentric focus, leading to a very participatory and egalitarian view of church and ministry. Bourne is a fascinating and complicated person, who certainly had his faults. Yet he was also ahead of his time on questions of lay representation and women in ministry.

Some of Hugh Bourne’s writings are only available at the John Rylands Library, and those that are available elsewhere are still quite rare and difficult to find. I was very grateful for the opportunity to spend several weeks at the Rylands through the MWRC Visiting Fellow programme, as it gave me access to numerous sources that I would not have been able to find at home in Toronto. I also appreciated the many connections I was able to make with other scholars from the UK. At the MWRC and Nazarene Theological College I found a welcoming community and ideal base for doing research on the Wesleyan tradition.

Dr James Pedlar is Assistant Professor of Wesley Studies and Theology, Tyndale Seminary (Toronto). 

‘Archives are Underrated’: Priscilla Pope-Levison Reflects on Her Research as an MWRC Visiting Fellow

Archives are underrated by the general public. When I utter the word, archives, in polite conversation, there’s often an eye roll or an eyebrow-crinkling quizzical look. Archives, really? What’s an archive? Isn’t that a dark, dank, uninviting place? And for a vacation—really?!? Why not the beach or the mountains, or even a big city with lots to do and see? That’s the response I heard so often when I told people that for my summer vacation I was heading to the Manchester Wesley Research Centre (MWRC) at the Nazarene Theological College in Manchester, England, as a Visiting Fellow. And I’ve had a blast!

For archival enthusiasts like me—and you know who you are—the MWRC is a Methodist, archival treasure. In one room, you can find entire collections of Wesley works, the major journals in Methodism, like Wesleyan Theological Journal, Wesley and Methodist Studies, and Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society, significant secondary source works on the history of leading Methodist figures, and a rich collection representing the Wesleyan/Holiness movement in Britain and the USA. All of these books, journals, and pamphlets are within arm’s reach of each other, so the researcher can simply look over the titles, borrow them off the shelf, and read them in one of several adjoining study rooms.

There’s also the one-of-a-kind journal collection, carefully tended by the archivist, of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century organizations that comprised the British holiness movement, like the Pentecostal League of Prayer, the International Holiness Mission, and the Pentecostal Church of Scotland. These organizations focused on the Baptism of the Holy Ghost as a definite blessing received after conversion. I had never heard of any of these organizations before coming to the MWRC, but I ended up spending most of my time at the MWRC immersed in two decades of the Pentecostal League of Prayer’s journal, Tongues of Fire. Reader Harris (1847–1909) founded the League in 1891 in order “to spread Scriptural Holiness by unsectarian methods broadcast through this and other lands.” The grassroots emphasis of the League galvanized around forming prayer unions, or Centers, in which twelve or more people met weekly to pray for revitalization along holiness lines of individuals and churches.

What I found in terms of women’s involvement in the League astounded me. The League provided unparalleled opportunities for women in public ministry in late-nineteenth-century Britain. At every major conference and annual convention, at missions in churches, at holiness meetings, in short, at any public gathering sponsored by the League, women—and many of them—spoke to mixed audiences of men and women. In addition, more than a hundred women over the two decades served as Secretary of a League Centre, which required a quasi-pastoral role of spiritual oversight. Even more remarkable, because clergy and laity met together in the Centers, it would have been the case that female League Secretaries led Holiness and Prayer meetings where clergymen participated.

I’ve learned so much during these weeks of “vacation.” Archives are underrated!

Dr Priscilla-Pope Levison is Associate Dean for External Programs at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.

Andrew Kloes's Reflections on His Time as MWRC Post-doctoral Fellow

"I am very grateful to NTC and MWRC for the opportunities that I had during the past six months as a postdoctoral research fellow. Manchester was an exciting city to live in and the College’s student and faculty community was a warm and inviting place to be.

I enjoyed pursuing my research interests in the special collections of the John Rylands Library. While working there, Dr Peter Nockles directed me to a copy of John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament that Augustus Montague Toplady thoroughly annotated while he was a student at Trinity College, Dublin. These extensive annotations provide new insights into the public theological debates that Toplady had over ten years later with Wesley as well as those that occurred between Calvinists and Arminians within the eighteenth-century Church of England, more generally. I am currently working on a journal article manuscript based on this previously unstudied source.

Additionally, I believe that I have also grown professionally during my time at the MWRC. I had opportunities to work as a research assistant to Professor Howard Snyder and Dr Geordan Hammond, give several guest lectures, supervise a master’s degree student’s directed study, and perform academic administrative work for the College.

A special highlight for me was organising the summer Methodist Heritage Tour to Gloucester and Bristol. This was a great time shared with PhD students and staff from the college, deepening friendships and learning more about the early Methodist movement by visiting significant historical sites."

Kelly Yates's reflections on her time as MWRC PG Assistant

"Over the course of the two years, I served as postgraduate assistant for the MWRC. My main responsibility was keeping the website updated. It was a privilege keeping in touch with MWRC Fellows around the world so I could keep their profiles up to date.

I also spent time organising and promoting the Annual Lecture and Colloquium; updating bibliographical information of our library; and assisting with the George Whitefield letters project that Geordan Hammond has been spearheading.

The experience with the MWRC provided me with opportunities to meet dozens of scholars from around the world in Wesley studies, theology, and biblical studies. Most of all I enjoyed working with two of the world’s leading Wesley scholars, Howard Snyder and Geordan Hammond."

Josh Bloor is New MWRC Postgraduate Assistant

On 1 September, Josh Bloor assumes his responsibilities as the MWRC Postgraduate Assistant. Josh, who resides in Manchester, is a doctoral student at University of Manchester/Nazarene Theological College, having earlier completed a masters degree at NTC. His doctoral research is in biblical studies and focuses on the book of Hebrews. Josh has already done some work for the MWRC, having produced the current MWRC brochure.

Josh succeeds Kelly Yates, PhD student at NTC currently completing the final draft of her thesis. Kelly has served as PG Assistant for the past two years, helping with many details including maintaining the MWRC website. She has served with distinction, and the MWRC is pleased to have someone equally qualified to pick up the many MWRC administrative details that Kelly handled so well.

More information about Josh is found on the MWRC website:/joshua-d-a-bloor/

Methodist Heritage Tour 22-23 June 2016

The MWRC led a Methodist Heritage Tour in Gloucester, Stroud, and Bristol on 22-23 June. Dr Andrew Kloes, postdoctoral fellow, organized the trip. Lectures were given by Dr Geordan Hammond and Dr Kloes on John Wesley and George Whitefield's travels and connections to the places visited. Highlights of the tour included visiting Gloucester Cathedral where George Whitefield was ordained, the Inn where Whitefield was born, and the church where Whitefield preached his first sermon. The seventeen tour participants at Gloucester Cathedral

Prof Kenneth J. Collins gives 2016 Annual Lecture

Dr Ken Collins gave the MWRC annual lecture today at the Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, Chapel. His lecture, 'The Method of John Wesley's Practical Theology Reconsidered' covered themes such as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral reconfigured and the style of Wesley's theological method. Over sixty faculty, students, and friends of the MWRC attended. To see the video of the lecture, click here 

Prof Kenneth J. Collins to speak at MWRC Annual Lecture 14 June 2016

The 2016 lecture will be given by Professor Kenneth J. Collins on Tuesday 14 June at 5:00 PM at J.B. Maclagan Chapel Nazarene Theological College, Dene Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2GU.

The title of his lecture is: 'The Method of John Wesley's Practical Theology Reconsidered'. 

Poster for the Event

This lecture is free and open to the public.

It will be streamed online at:

Sponsored by the Church of the Nazarene’s International Board of Education.

Invitation to a Celebration of the Work of Dr Henry Rack

You are invited to John Rylands Library, Manchester, for a celebration of the work of Dr Henry Rack, 23 June 2016, 5:00 - 7:00 PM

There will be a time of reflection, discussion, and reception.

In addition there will be a discussion by international scholars on the essays presented in Perfecting Perfection, a a recently published festschrift volume honouring Dr Rack. For more information, click here

Please R.S.V.P 

Dr Peter Nockles or

Dr Robert Webster