Local Preachers' Mutual Aid Association

Several local initiatives in the years before 1849 (e.g in Bolton, Bristoland Cambridge) foreshadowed the formation of the LPMAA. The society formed in Bristol expressed its purposes as 'promoting brotherly love, relieving the distressed, administering to the wants and necessities of the afflicted, and smoothing the pillow of death'. In June 1849 Francis Pearson, a local preacher in the Cromford Circuit, initiated a correspondence in the Wesleyan Times which led to an Aggregate Meeting of over 600 WM local preachers in London on 3-4th October. This formally established the WM LPMAA, adopted resolutions for the preparation of rules, appointed officers and elected a General Committee. Dr. William Harris, who had chaired the meetings, was elected the first President. Each circuit was invited to send a representative to the annual Aggregate Meeting.

Primitive Methodism had its own 'Local Preachers' Provident Institution', established in 1884.

From 1851 the Association retained in membership any local preachers who were expelled from or left the WM as a result of the Reform movement. In consequence of this it was eschewed by the WM establishment for nearly a quarter of a century. Local preachers of the UMFC (1857), WRU (1859), MNC (1896), BC (1907) and PM (1932) became eligible for membership as circumstances made this necessary or appropriate.

Notable laymen who have served as President of the Association include 'Judge' Samuel Dousland Waddy (1870), Sir William H. *Stephenson (1883, 1895), Sir John Barnsley, a Birmingham builder (1899), Sir Thomas Rowbotham, magistrate and Mayor ofStockport (1909) and Richard J. Soper MP (1939, Vice-President of the Conference, 1946). Other LPMAA Presidents who have also been Vice-Presidents of the Conference are: R. Parkinson Tomlinson (1928 and 1942; V.-P. 1938), Herbert Ibberson (1945; V.-P. 1942) and Albert Bailey (1961; V.-P. 1966).

Following World War II the LPMAA diversified its provision to include five residential care homes (at Westcliff-on-Sea, Grange-over Sands, Woodhall Spa, Minehead and Rickmansworth). Rickmansworth closed and was sold in 2001, because of the decline in the nymber of local preachers and their dependents seeking residential care. The association had shared with MHA in creating a sheltered housing development in Sheffield in 1989 and continues to provide financial and personal help for local preachers and their dependants in their own homes. Its periodical The Local Preacher's Magazine (now entitled Ichthus) has been published without a break since 1851, originally monthly, but since 1970 as a quarterly. Dr. William Harris was its first editor.

In response to a Conference resolution in 1963 the LPMAA and the Connexion gradually moved together. A Standing Joint Committee was formed between the Association and the Local Preachers Department in 1964, and by 1967 a joint Local Preachers Sunday, with combined information leaflet, was agreed. Addressing the Aggregate Meeting of the Association in 1979, the Connexional Local Preachers Secretary invited the Association 'to take Conference into its system'. Mutual representation on ech other's committees followed in 1983, with an LPMAA report being presented to Conference, for information only. By 1992 the Standing Joint Committee had produced 'Becoming One', which identified issues for discussion. A plan of integration was prepared and presented to the Committee in 1994 and by 1996 a modified version found favour, under which Conference formally appointed the officers nominated annually by the Aggregate Meeting.

During the year of its 150th anniversary (1999), the Association appointed a working party to seek ways of revitalizing its work in the Circuit Branches. This proved to be the first step in a process, including a survey of all local preachers conducted jointly with the Connexional Local Preachers Committee, leading to the dissolution of the Association at its final Aggregate Meeting in 2005. Its function of supporting local preachers and their dependents in time of need has been taken over by a new, independent body, the 'Leaders of Worship and Preachers Trust', composed of trustees nominated by the Methodist Conference, the Wesleyan Reform Union and the former LPMAA. Provision is made for additional trustees as ecumenical developments make this appropriate. The new body has a wider remit under charity law and is governed by Charity Commission regulations.

  • F.H. Buss & R G. Burnett, A Goodly Fellowship 1849-1949 (1949)
  • John Munsey Turner, 'Conference, Local Preachers and the Local Preachers Mutual Aid Association', in Preachers All: Essays to Celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Yorkshire Branch of the Wesley Historical Society (Leeds, 1987)
  • C.A.Parker in G. Milburn & M. Batty (eds.), Workaday Preachers (Peterborough, 1995), pp.201-22
  • C.A. Parker, Confidence in Mutual Aid (Peterborough, 1998)
  • Methodist Recorder, 23 June 2005