'Liverpool Minutes'

The Conference of 1820 was held in Liverpool, with Jabez Bunting in the Presidential chair. A decrease of 4,688 members was reported, the first ever recorded in the British circuits. (Ireland, in contrast, reported an increase of 1,220.) This led to some soul-searching and renewed attention to Wesley's 'Rules of a Helper' and other parts of the Large Minutes. The outcome was a series of resolutions in which the preachers rededicated themselves to their duties as pastors and preachers. Among the measures they pledged themselves to were: a renewal of field preaching and Home Mission activities, public prayer meetings; attention to children, young people and 'backsliders'; pastoral visiting and meetings with class leaders; encouragement of Sabbath observance and attendance at the Lord's Supper; the preparation of catechisms and resumption of quarterly schedules; discouragement of 'the spirit of strife and debate' in Leaders' Meetings and Quarterly Meetings, and a day of specialfasting and prayer. How much of this was put into effect is difficult to determine, but it became a standard practice for these 'Liverpool Minutes' to be read annually at Circuit and District meetings, until they were replaced in 1885 by fresh 'Resolutions on Pastoral Work'. The current 'Resolutions' date from 1971 and are printed in CPD Vol.2 Bk.VI Part 1.

  • Minutes 1820, 1885
  • John C.Bowmer, Pastor and People (1975), pp.93-5
  • History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, 2(1978) pp.115-16; 4 (1988) pp.367-72