Quarterly Meeting

This part of Methodism's organization, derived from the Quakers, was introduced by John Bennet and evolved with the Circuit system. The 1748 Conference had stated that the societies should be more firmly and closely united together, and the first circuit Quarterly Meeting was presided over by William Grimshaw at Todmorden Edge on October 18 1748. Others soon followed, the development being particularly encouraged by Bennet, and in 1749 the Conference laid down that an Assistant responsible for a Circuit had a duty 'to hold Quarterly Meetings, and therein diligently to enquire both into the spiritual and temporal state of each Society'. By 1753 they were established in all twelve existing Circuits. They were gatherings of the itinerant preachers, the circuit stewards and the society stewards and class leaders from the various societies, meeting to deal with financial matters and other activities and to exercise spiritual oversight, and including a time of worship and fellowship (and often dinner).

In 1852, following the recent agitations and secessions, the WM Conference made the Quarterly Meeting more representative, clearly defining its constitution for the first time. It was to include the ministers and probationers stationed there, circuit stewards, and all society and poor stewards, class leaders, local preachers of three years standing and trustees in the Circuit. (Other responsible officers were later added.) It also gave the meeting the right to hear appeals in certain discipline cases and to approach Conference directly and freely via a Memorial, whilst reserving 'the integrity of the pastoral office, the inviolability of the connexional principle and the authority of District Committees'.

Other Methodist connexions followed a similar pattern of quarterly meetings (sometimes under other names e.g. 'Quarter Day Board'), and the meeting's constitution continued essentially unaltered in 1932.

In the 1974 Restructuring it was eventually replaced, in a reduced form, by the Circuit Meeting.

See also 'Liverpool Minutes'

  • Henry W. Williams, The Constitution and Polity of Wesleyan Methodism (1881) pp.87-98
  • WHS Proceedings, 7 pp.78-81; 26 pp.105-9
  • James H. Rigg, Wesleyan Methodist Reminiscences Sixty Years Ago (1904) pp.138-41
  • F. Hunter and F. Baker, 'The Origin of the Methodist Quarterly Meeting', in London Quarterly and Holborn Review , January1949, pp.28-37
  • History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain 1 (1965) pp.239-242