Classic History Books


Great Britain and Her Queen - by Anne E. Keeling

Scripture study is furnished by the "Religious Knowledge Examinations" instituted by Conference;
certificates, signed by the President, being granted to teachers and scholars who succeed in passing the

examinations. In recognition of the value of so important a department of the Church, adequate

representation at the quarterly meetings is now accorded to the Sunday schools.

It is not in our day only that the pastoral oversight of the young has been deemed worthy of attention; the
duty has always been enforced on ministers; but in 1878 there were first formed junior Society classes, to

prepare children for full membership. There are now seventy-two thousand in such classes.

In 1896 we note a new effort to bring young people into the kingdom, in the foundation of the "Wesley
Guild," of which the President of Conference is the head, with four vice-presidents, two being laymen.

The guild is "a union of the young people of a congregation. Its keynote is comradeship, and its aim is to

encourage the young people of our Church in the highest aims of life." The story of its origin may be

briefly told.

The Rev. Charles H. Kelly introduced the subject in the London Methodist Council, and then brought the
matter before the Plymouth Conference of 1895, dwelling on the desire existing to form a Wesley Guild

that should do for Britain what the Epworth League does for American Methodism, and secure the best

advantages not only of that league, but of the Boys' Brigade, Bands of Hope, Christian Endeavour and

Mutual Improvement Societies, which it should federate. The Liverpool Conference of 1896 therefore

sanctioned the formation of the "Wesley Guild." Its three grades of members include young people

already attached to the Church, with others not yet ripe for such identification, and "older people young

in heart," who all join in guild friendship, and aid in forming this federation of the existing societies

interesting to young people.

By periodical meetings, weekly if possible, for devotional, social, and literary purposes, a healthy
common life and beneficent activity are stimulated, and the rising generation is happily and usefully

drawn into relation with the older Church workers, whom it aids by seeking out the young, lonely, and

unattached, and bringing them into the warm circle of youthful fellowship.

Such in brief is the programme of the Guild, which may yet greatly enrich the Church with which it is
connected.

We turn now to one of the most notable changes in Methodism during the Queen's reign - the wonderful
advance in the temperance movement. Wesley himself was an ardent temperance reformer, but his

preachers were slow to follow him. A few prominent men strove long to induce Conference to institute a

temperance branch of our work, and finally succeeded, their efforts having effected a great change in

opinion. For many years our theological students, though not compelled thereto, have almost all been

pledged abstainers. 1873 saw Conference appoint a temperance committee "to promote legislation for the

more effectual control of the liquor traffic - and in general for the suppression of intemperance." In 1879

a scheme was sanctioned for the formation of Methodist Bands of Hope and Circuit Temperance Unions;

and a special Sunday, the last in November, is devoted to considering "the appalling extent and dire

result" of our national sin, one of the greatest obstacles to that "spread of scriptural holiness" which is the

aim of the true Wesleyan Methodist, whose chosen Church, with its manifold organisation, has

unequalled facilities for temperance work. In 1896 the report showed 1,374 temperance societies, with

80,000 members - figures that do not include all the abstainers in Methodism; some societies have no

temperance association, and some Methodists are connected with other than our own temperance work.

The 4,393 Bands of Hope count 433,027 members.

 

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