Is Hugh Bourne's Methodism Alive Today?

When Archbishop from Nigeria, the Most Rev'd Sunday Ikpechukwu Ogbusuo Agwu arrived at Mow Cop on the May Bank Holiday Monday it was in way of personal pilgrimage, but there were also serious questions that he wanted to ask.  'Is Hugh Bourne's Methodism Alive Today?' was asked kindly but bluntly.   

And answers were given: 'Methodism is very good with the social gospel and caring for those in need' offered local Mow Cop resident Norman Millard.  'Methodist work with distribution from food banks is outstanding'.  'We were converted 59 years ago when a Methodist Church deaconess caravan mission visited Mow Cop' reported Fred and Barbara Howell.  'The deaconesses had come to live in the caravan at Mow Cop for a month.  We thought that we should invite them to our house so that they could each have a bath!  They invited us back to the caravan and we were both soundly converted.  Our faith is as strong today as ever'.

Others felt that the wide range of 'fresh expressions' in the Chester and Stoke-on-Trent District in 2013 was a sign of the presence and movement of the Spirit of God.  It was agreed that if 'Hugh Bourne represents innovative evangelism', then there is again evidence of this in Methodism today.

A model of the caravan used by the deaconesses to evangelise Mow Cop in 1954 was on display.  This had been given by the Rev'd Beth Bridges (Sister Beth in 1954).  It was seen as a symbol of the sacrificial, flexible and mobile lives of those who would share the Gospel with others.    

On arrival the Archbishop knelt at the communion rail facing the communion table and the pulpit.  He gave thanks for the lives of John and Charles Wesley, and then for Hugh Bourne, William Clowes and others who worked with them.  Well over an hour later all heartily sang 'And Can it be that I should Gain' and the meeting concluded movingly in prayer for the work of God in both Nigeria and the UK - as the Archbishop left for the Mow Cop summit.  Yes, much of Hugh Bourne's Methodism is alive today!'

Stephen Hatcher

John Dean (who renovated the model deaconess caravan for display) and Archbishop Sunday

The Spirit of Hugh Bourne today!: (from left to right) June Ikin, Barbara Dean, Barbara and Fred Howell, Archbishop Sunday, Ruth Pickles (Ex-Vice-President of Conference), Stephen Hatcher, Norman Millard and John Dean (with the model caravan).

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