Christopher Hopper preached there in 1759, returning in 1761 with John Wesley, who made a further 13 visits. By 1763 Methodism had been established through Thomas Hanby. Like other Scottish societies it was almost destroyed by the publication of James Hervey's 'eleven letters' in 1764. Dundee became a circuit in 1766. The society met in a former convent, then moved in 1773 to a former Episcopalian chapel in Tally Street. During the anti-Conference agitation of 1836 D. Shoebotham and more than half the members left, becoming first IM and then Congregationalists. PM arrived in 1835, led by John Johnson. After his death in 1864 the strong PM society in Peter Street joined with the WM in a new church at Ward Road; but by 1869 a social divide led to a separation of the two societies. Ward Road is the only surviving Methodist Church in Dundee.
John Wesley's Journal:
May 1764: 'I rode to Dundee, and about half an hour after six, preached on the side of a meadow near the town. Poor and rich attended. Indeed there is seldom fear of wanting a congregation in Scotland. But the misfortune is, they know everything; so they learn nothing.'
June 1766: 'I came to Dundee, wet enough. But it cleared up in the evening, so that I preached abroad to a large congregation, many of whom attended in the morning.
[Next day] 'The congregation was still larger in the evening, but on Wednesday the rain kept us in the house.
[Thursday] 'It being fair, we had a more numerous congregation than ever; to whom, after preaching, I took occasion to repeat most of the plausible objections which had been made to us in Scotland. I then showed our reasons for the things which had been objected to us, and all seemed to be thoroughly satisfied.'
[One week later] 'I preached in the evening at Dundee, with greater liberty than ever before.'
May 1768: 'In the evening I preached to a large congregation at Dundee. They heard attentively, but seemed to feel nothing. The next evening I spoke more strongly, and to their hearts rather than to their understanding; and I believe a few felt the word of God sharp as a two-edged sword.'
May 1770: 'The ministers here, particularly Mr. Small, are bitter enough; notwithstanding which, the society is well established, and the congregation exceeding large. I dealt very plainly with them at six, and still more so the next evening; yet none appeared to be offended.'
May 1774: 'In the evening I preached at Dundee, and had great hopes that brotherly love would continue.'
June 1779: 'In the evening I preached at Dundee. The congregation was, as usual, very large and deeply attentive. But that was all. I did not perceive that any one was affected at all. I admire this people; so decent, so serious, and so perfectly unconcerned.'
June 1782: 'The congregation was large and attentive, as usual. But I found no increase, either of the society or of the work of God.'
May 1784: 'In the evening I preached in our own ground to a numerous congregation; but the next afternoon to one far more numerous, on whom I earnestly enforced "How long halt ye between two opinions?" Many of them seemed almost persuaded to halt no longer; but God only knows the heart.'
Entry written by: MB
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