Minutes of Conference

The first published minutes of the Conference proceedings were two pamphlets produced by John Wesley in 1749, entitled 'Minutes of some late conversations between the Revd Mr Wesleys and others'. These summarized the decisions of the Conferences held from 1744, and were popularly known as the 'Doctrinal Minutes' and the 'Disciplinary Minutes'. The latter was revised and enlarged in 1753 to become the Large Minutes'.

There are relatively few other records of Conference proceedings before 1764. The first annual Minutes of Conference was published in 1765, in the form of a pamphlet of 12 pages. As the Minutes were sold for some years for one penny, they became known as the 'Penny-Minutes'.

The series of annual Minutes has continued to the present. Two collected editions were published, in 1812 (8vo) and 1862 (12mo). A useful Handbook and Index, edited by Charles E. Wansborough, was published in 1890. The obituaries from the annual Minuteswere reprinted in a single volume, edited by Joseph Hall and covering the years 1777-1840, under the title Memorials of Wesleyan Methodist Ministers or the Yearly Death Roll (1876).

The Annual Minutes from 1765 contained the list of itinerant preachers and their stations, connexional membership returns, some account of connexional finance, and new legislation. Later the ministerial obituaries and Address to the Societies were included. The published Minutes for the annual Conferences of the other Methodist connexions were generally in similar form. From 1965 the volume was entitled 'Minutes and Yearbook' and from 1988, 'Minutes and Directory', indicating its breadth, although the core content remains essentially similar. It is, however, the Conference 'Journal', not the Minutes, which is the authoritative record of its proceedings.

  • Charles E. Wansbrough, Handbook and Index to the Minutes of the Conference (1890)
  • W.F. Swift in WHS Proceeedings, 31 pp.155-160, 199
  • Henry D. Rack (ed.), The Methodist Societies: the Minutes of Conference, in 'The Works of John Wesley', Bicentennial Edition, vol. 10 (Nashville, 2011)

Entry written by: SRH
Category: Publication
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