Evangelists' Home, Birmingham

The home was established in Birmingham in September 1888 as a private venture by Joseph Odell, Superintendent of the PM Birmingham First Circuit. He was assisted by his wife, who attended to the domestic arrangements. The staffing increased from two to twenty in the first six months. Its purpose was to train lay evangelists for special work. In 1889 30 young men were sent out to give assistance in circuits needing additional help. Later 13 were sent out to America. More than 160 young men were trained, although the names of only 50 arer now known. Among them were John B. Bayliffe (1868-1950), shown in the Stations prior to 1917 as 'Connexional Evangelist', Bert Coulbeck (1876-1949), Connexional Evangelist 1916-1931, and Tom Holland, a layman who was a travelling evangelist for most of his active life.

In 1889 Odell sought to have the Conference take over the Home and adopt a formal Order of Evangelists within the Connexion; but in the light of existing provision available for the employment of evangelists Conference declined. Continuing attempts over the next two years came to nothing, and in 1891 the work of the Home was identified as Odell's own business, Odell himself becoming Superintendent of the Birmingham Fourth Circuit. By 1900 reports of the work of the Home evangelists (e.g. in the Primitive Methodist newspaper) were becoming fewer.

The Home survived until June 1904, but then Mrs.Odell's health necessitated its cloasure. As an unofficial venture the closure went unheralded in the official PM literature.

  • Colin C. Short, Joseph Odell and the Evangelists' Home (Englesea Brook, 2001)

Entry written by: CCS and WL
Category: School/College
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