Missionary Controversy

This began with four articles published in the Methodist Times in April 1890 by Henry Lunn, who had recently returned from India. The WMMS had sent him to establish a hospital, but repeated attacks of fever forced him to return within a year and he was then stationed in the West London Mission with H.P. Hughes, editor of the Methodist Times. Lunn and Hughes criticized the supposedly elitist English-medium education policy, exemplified by what they saw as the failure of Alexander Duff's work in Calcutta, and the allegedly lavish lifestyle of the WM enterprise in India, both entailing preoccupation with the higher castes and aloofness from the masses. They were supported in the Joyful News by Thomas Champness, who had recently sent evangelists to India under an independent low-budget arrangement. The WMMS resisted the charges and conciliatory resolutions were passed by the 1889 Conference; but support for foreign missions, which had been waning, was further undermined. Protests from India led to a commission of enquiry chaired by the President, which found the allegations unsustained. The 1890 Conference endorsed its findings and Lunn soon resigned from the ministry.

  • The Missionary Controversy (1890)
  • Henry Lunn, Chapters from my Life (1918) pp. 88-128
  • G.G. Findlay and W.W. Holdsworth, The History of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (1921-1924), vol.1 pp.137-60
  • N.C. Sargant in London Quarterly and Holborn Review, October 1965, pp.304-10
  • N. Carr Sargant, The Missionary Controversy 1889-1890, involving Henry Lunn and Hugh Price Hughes, Bulletin 27 of the Bristol Branch of the WHS, 1979
  • History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain vol. 4 (1988) pp.575-84
  • Christopher Oldstone-Moore, Hugh Price Hughes (Cardiff, 1999) pp.182-202