Manx Methodist Historical Society - Newsletter 17

Methodist New Connexion.

It was in 1971 that Eve Chapman compiled her first notes on Manx Methodist History - 'an interim report' she described it - which contains some interesting notes on the 'Methodist New Connexion.' In 1886 the Directory tells us there was a place of worship for a company of Former Methodists at 1 Athol Street (Douglas). In this year the M.N.C. received the Isle of Man as a Home Mission Station John Shaw was temporarily in charge for a year, and Conference sanctioned the building of a chapel. Conference figures in 1888 record four societies; we know of Ramsey, Douglas, and a cottage meeting in Laxey but there is no record where the fourth society was centred. The M.N.C.Conference was in two minds about taking over the Isle of Man even then. Some said the expense was too great; others said that surely the Isle of Man was equally worthy of missionary enterprise as - say - Africa, and a further telling point was that many Northern members of M.N.C. were taking holidays here, and would be glad to find a chapel of their own denomination for holiday worship.

'A site was chosen in Derby Road to cost £1800. A house to be provided in Woodbourne Square. In 1889 Edward Troughton was appointed minister and in his stay here the society moved from Athol Street to Derby Road' (now the Red Cross Centre).

Mrs. Chapman also included in her interim report some brief notes on the M.N.C. church at Ramsey, but was unable to obtain many details. It is evident that the M.N.C. was never very strong on the Island - 'in 1922 they report only 22 members (in Ramsey). No minister, no local preachers, and eventually they merged with Parliament Street Methodist Church.'

The Douglas society seems to have fared little better - with a steady decline from 1907 to 1914 when the property was sold to St. Thomas' Church as a school hall. Mrs. Chapman suggested that perhaps the secret of its early demise rests in the fact that its foundation was never strong - it was founded on personal animosities (see Times 22 August to December 1867 sad troubles between the Wesleyan minister and Wm. Shimmim) and it vitas this personal feeling rather than practical principles of M.N.C:. which were responsible for the non-continuance of the M.N.C. in Douglas. Mrs. Chapman admitted that this was perhaps speculation on her part, but any further clarification would be welcome.

The speaker at our Spring Meeting this year was Rev. R. Kissack, when he presented a paper entitled 'The contribution of Methodism to the Culture of the Isle of Man.' Mr. Kissack's objective was to consider the claim of some 19th century historians that the spiritual, moral and political renaissance of the Island was a result of the coming of Methodism.

During the decade of 1765 - 1775 three momentous events give it the right to be considered a Decade of Destiny. One was the revestment, when the Duke of Atholl sold the island, which his family had inherited from the Stanleys a generation before, to the English Crown, the second was the publication of, a Manx translation of the Bible, and the third was the establishment of a Methodist system of church life on the island, through the efforts of John Crook in 1775.

Mr. Kissack described how the Manx Church received the new preaching - it was not a happy situation, and needed Wesley's diplomacy on his second visit to bring an end whose full force had landed on Crook.

The next half-century was a time of vigorous growth for Methodists, with church relations more true to Wesley's ideal of a Methodism functioning as an Order working within the Anglican church for its renewal, than they were to be elsewhere. But by the time of the 1860's, Methodism had become not merely an alternative to Anglicanism, but also its rival.

Mr Kissack described the effect of Methodism on the Manx community - in the church, the societal, and in tackling peculiar social problems like drunkeness. This was a paper of considerable importance for the Society, and it is hoped to publish, it in pamphlet form in the near future.


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