PRIMITIVE METHODISM
INTRODUCTION AND HISTORY

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HUGH BOURNE and Primitive Methodism

Primitive Methodism - the name "Primitive" means "Early" or "Original", not "undeveloped" - originated almost by accident. Hugh Bourne and some of his companions were Methodists who from about 1800 to 1810 did much to advance Methodism both around the Potteries and further afield. While they were loyal to Methodism at that time, some felt that they lacked "dignity", and they had their membership withdrawn. They formed the nucleus of a new branch of Methodism of great vitality.

One feature of Primitive Methodism was that it reached the ordinary working people, and changed their lives for good. No hamlet was too small, and Ramsor, a hamlet in the Parish of Ellastone, became prominent. Mission work from Ramsor included the mines at Ecton and Mixon. The social work of John Wesley was continued by the Primitive Methodists, for the benefit of the poor. Some historians suggest that this was the ground out of which the Labour Party, so far as it was concerned to help working people, grew.


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INTRODUCTION

NOTE this is only brief, and readers are advised to look at the archived source material listed below.

As we read about God's working in the past, let us be inspired to pray that we may see such spiritual awakenings in our own time.

In our time the word "primitive" conveys the idea of early in the sense of not properly formed, or lacking in some way.
The original idea of Primitive Methodism was rather a return to that first bright flame of God which inspired the Wesley brothers.
It was "primitive" in the sense of "early", as more perfect.
This led people to seek that God would restore the original fire.

Primitive Methodism was formed as a formal movement in 1811, as the union of two revivalist movements.
Some of the enthusiasm of the movement's members was not popular, and they were nicknamed "The Ranters".
Later the Wesleyan and the Primitive branches of Methodism were to unite, which took place in 1932.
However, there are still a significant number of Methodist Societies which have remained independent from the main Methodist Church. They are mostly grouped in the Wesleyan Reform Union, and make a vital contribution to modern British Christianity.

Rev. Hugh Bourne is remembered as one of the original leaders of Primitive Methodism. His life story is well worth reading. We have copied a 19th century Life of Hugh Bourne by Rev. Jesse Ashworth, which the webmaster has found inspirational and challenging. This has a wealth of useful information and spiritual application. "When God foresaw that Methodism would need reviving, He prepared a Staffordshire Moorlands man to do it."

There is on one of the islands of Tonga, in a clearing, a stone memorial. It commemorates a day in 1834 (according to Rev. Eddie Fox speaking at Cliff College, May Bank Holiday Celbration 2000) when the Holy Spirit fell. There had been a few missionary couples, sent by the Methodist Missionary Society at the beginning of the 19th century. As the wife or husband fell ill and died, the survivor would return home and be replaced by another couple. A small Church was established.

One day, the Christians of Tonga called a prayer meeting. They prayed along these lines.

" God, you sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
You sent the Holy Spirit on John Wesley.
Would you please send the Holy Spirit on us."

The Holy Spirit came on that small group of Christians that day, and very soon most of the people of Tonga were Christians. They sent missionaries to neighbouring groups of islands, such as Fiji, where Christianity is still refered to as, "the religion of Tonga".

I originally wrote this on Whit Sunday, 2000. The relevance to Primitive Methodism is that one of the inspirations of the Camp Meetings was to ask God to send the Holy Spirit.

Later addition. The Life of Hugh Bourne records a meeting with some Methodists from Stockport. They preached the Wesley doctine of "entire sanctification". This was an occasion of renewed blessing from God, and the start of a new and more powerful phase of ministry. The Society which lead to the first Camp Meeting on Mow Cop followed this. The Camp Meeting at Ramsor lead to the conversion of 30 people on one day. Ramsor later became a head of Circuit, and larger towns such as Leek eventually became Circuits by dividing from Ramsor.

The Chapel at Ramsor is now privately owned, and has been used as a Chapel since then. At present (August 2001) it is being re-decorated. Services will be held when possible. Ramsor is now a very small village, 2 miles north of Alton Towers, but it was much more extensive in the past.

We hope to include notices of future services and prayer meetings at Ramsor for anyone who would like to attend.

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HISTORY

As a starting point, we have copied the chapter on Primitive Methodism ( 94k rtf ) from the book "A New History Of Methodism", by Townsend, Workman and Eayrs, 1909, Hodder and Stoughton. This is believed to be out of copyright by now. (Please let me know if I am wrong.)

"Life of Hugh Bourne" by Rev. Jesse Ashworth (1888) is excellent.


Any other contributions will be gratefully received.

There is a Museum of Primitive Methodism in the Potteries.
Englesea Brook Chapel and Museum of Primitive Methodism,    
Contact : - Rev, S. P. Hatcher, BD, PhD, tel. 01782 82 28 36.
We will provide more details of this in due course.


FURTHER READING . ( back )

Primitive Methodist Sunday School Hymnal

Life of Hugh Bourne by Rev. Jesse Ashworth

Ramsor Section Circuit Plan 1822

The chapter on Primitive Methodism from in "A New History of Methodism" by Townsend, Workman and Eares, (1909)

Other source material now available includes a "History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion" by Rev. H B Kendall (1888?) ; and some pages from the Primitive Methodist Magazine, mid 1820's.

There is a general web site for Mow Cop - www.mowcop.com - which has some useful photographs and a brief section on Primitive Methodism.

An American web page on early Camp Meetings

The official web site of The Primitive Methodist Church in the USA


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August 2001