†John Austin Dolan (1945-2015), ‘Perfectionism in Crisis: Conflict in John Wesley’s Methodism in the 1760s’, unpublished MA dissertation, Nazarene Theological College/University of Manchester, 1997; and ‘Methodist Lay Sectarianism: The Independent Methodists 1796-1927’, unpublished PhD thesis, Nazarene Theological College/University of Manchester, 2004.
His doctoral studies inspired Dr Dolan to extend his research period beyond 1927 right up to the early twenty-first century – and this resulted in the publication of a definitive, illustrated, 200-year history of Independent Methodism, The Independent Methodists: A History (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 2005). It is described in the foreword by his external supervisor, Prof. David W. Bebbington, as ‘a thorough, persuasive and illuminating’ account. Dr Dolan, appreciating support he received from his supervisor (Rev. Dr Herbert B. McGonigle, then Principal of Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, and subsequently Director Emeritus of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre), states that: ‘His ready availability and perceptive comments helped to give shape and balance to the final thesis and checked my enthusiasm to include far more than was possible!’
John Dolan was born in 1945 at Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, his family later moving to Warrington. During the 1950s he was a pupil at Wade Deacon Grammar School for Boys at Widnes (then in Lancashire). In the 1960s he studied at Sheffield [Teachers’ Training] College (in Yorkshire), graduating as a qualified teacher. In the 1970s he was appointed headteacher at Belmont Junior School (near Bolton, Lancashire), a post from which he took early retirement in 1991 in order to take up full-time ministerial duties at Stockton Heath Independent Methodist Church (IMC), Warrington. He was Minister at Stockton Heath Christian Fellowship from 1965-2006 (full-time from 1991), and when he died at Warrington on 30 May 2015, he had been an accredited Minister in the Independent Methodist Connexion for fifty years.
John Dolan’s work with the IMC Connexion included: being President of the Connexion (1999); Young Peoples’ Secretary (1969-1975); Connexion Archivist (1982-2015); Connexion Publications Editor (full-time from 1991-2009), with titles including: Introducing the Independent Methodists; Christian Foundations [a teaching course on Christian Discipleship]; Past & Present 1, and Past & Present 2 [a photographic history of the Connexion]; Together in the Lord [a book of services]; Model Church Rules [new revised edition]; and Editor of the Connexion magazine – originally The Independent Methodist, later The Connexion (1977-2009).