This book shows that while the Primitive Methodist Connexion's mature social character was working-class, this did not reflect its social origins. It was never the church of the working class, the great majority of whose churchgoers went elsewhere: rather it was the church whose commitment to its emotional witness was increasingly incompatible with middle-class pretensions. Sandy Calder shows that the Primitive Methodist Connexion was a religious movement led by a fairly prosperous elite of middle-class preachers and lay officials appealing to a respectable working-class constituency. This reality has been obscured by the movement's self-image as a persecuted community of humble Christians, an image crafted by Hugh Bourne, and accepted by later historians, whether Methodists with a denominational agenda to promote or scholars in search of working-class radicals. Primitive Methodists exaggerated their hardships and deliberately under-played their social status and financial success. Primitive Methodism in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries became the victim of its own founding mythology, because the legend of a community of persecuted outcasts, concealing its actual respectability, deterred potential recruits.
SANDY CALDER graduated with a PhD in Religious Studies from the Open University and has previously worked in the private sector.
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of pages: 316
Weight: 756 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 26 mm
A signal scholarly achievement which will be the indispensable starting-point for future studies. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY
This book throws down an important challenge to some of the uncritically accepted assumptions which have smothered the study of Methodism for too long. HISTORY
An important contribution to the history of British Methodism. REVUE D'HISTOIRE ECCLESIASTIQUE
A significant and challenging contribution. BULLETIN OF THE METHODIST HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF IRELAND
A welcome and stimulating addition to the current discussion about Primitive Methodism. Here is an immensely detailed examination of the Bourne manuscript material in particular and Calder's analysis must be taken seriously. METHODIST RECORDER