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.