Some while ago I was in strong Primitive Methodist country – the Yorkshire Wolds – in the course of an enjoyable walk with my son, Matthew Dinsdale. But the sunshine was replaced by a gathering mist, and in the picture I am walking into an unknown and unseen future. The grassroots members of the Primitive Methodist churches were in a similar situation in the years following the study set out in my book Change and Decay (q.v.). This  third volume, following on from The great River and Change and Decay,  traces and explores the survival of earlier Primitive Methodist ethos and faith, both within the post-1932 Methodist Church of Great Britain, and outside, in church and individual.

Here is a review from one reader of the draft of the book:

This book offers an examination of the critical transitional years for the British Primitive Methodist church in those years leading up to Methodist Union, over union itself, and the years thereafter. This may imply a dry historical account. Reader beware- it is anything but! You will either find this a compelling truth revealing account of  church history and doctrine, or else find it too partisan to tolerate. 

In the First World War it was sometimes said of the British soldiers that they were ‘lions led by donkeys,’– brave soldiers sent to death by incompetent generals. For David Young much of the Methodist history in these years reflects faithful Christians being battered by false theological perspectives from those who should have been wise in the things of the kingdom. It is hard hitting. 

The tone of the book balances regret for what has happened, with hope for the possibility of what might still be.  Therefore this account fulfils two purposes– it is not only an autopsy of that which has died, but a surgical examination in the hope that some can still  be saved.

  • Rev David Leese, minister, Cloud Methodist Church, Cheshire

The book comes with warm recommendations also from Dr Roland Burrows of the Christian Heritage Centre (Rowley Regis), the pastor of the Primitive Methodist Continuing Church (Hull), the superintendent minister of the Gornal and Sedgley Methodist Chrcuit, and a past President of the Primitive Methodist Church (USA).

Beginning from 1919, the year World War 1 officially ended, this book first looks at both the pressure for, and resistance to, the 1932 union of the Wesleyan, Primitive, and United Methodist denominations, and then at some developments within the newly formed “Methodist Church of Great Britain” into which the majority of Primitive Methodist congregations were absorbed.

The book then turns to the survival of the beliefs and spirituality of Primitive Methodism within the new Church, looking at a number of areas of Britain and including the work of the Methodist Revival Fellowship.

The study focuses next on congregations which seceded before 1932, on those who opted not to take part in the union, on later seceders from it, and on Primitive Methodist churches in the United States and Central America, which derive from preachers sent from England and which have never been absorbed into a larger denomination.

Finally, the question is asked, whether there is a future for the beliefs and spirit both of primitive Methodism, as bequeathed from the time of John and Charles Wesley, and of Primitive Methodism; and if so, what form the renewal or continuation might take.

It is a paperback of 300 pages, price £6.50 including postage, from me via this website, or from the publisher, Tentmaker Publications, Stoke-on-Trent.

1919 to 2019