Vibrant past and a bright future for the Methodist Church in Britain

Re-telling the Methodist story will strengthen the mission ofthe Church, says Heritage Officer Jo Hibbard.

The Church is launching the Methodist Heritage Handbook at the Bestof Britain & Ireland travel show at London Olympia, 17-20March.

"All our sites are linked by one story and by a shared history andinspiration. This is not only the story of the growth of aworldwide Christian movement; it also illustrates the relationshipand relevance of faith to spiritual, social and economicdevelopment over the past 300 years, today and for the future,"said Jo. "Through promoting Methodist Heritage, we are refocusingon the story of the Methodist Church in the past to support themission of the Church in the future."

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, presenter of the BBC's highlysuccessful The History of Christianity, endorsed the new guide,saying, "Methodism has been at the heart of Protestant Christianityworldwide since the eighteenth century - far beyond the churcheswhich call themselves Methodist. Without the new departures inChristian life inspired by John Wesley, the movements whichencompass Pentecostalism, the Salvation Army and the manyindependent Churches of Africa and Asia would not exist in anythinglike their present form. It is a task of global importance topreserve the places and experiences in Britain which triggered thisextraordinary variety of Christianities."

The free full-colour Handbook offers readers a guide to visiting100 historic sites, including the Old Rectory at Epworth inLincolnshire, which was the childhood home of John and CharlesWesley, and the first ever Methodist building at the New Room inBristol. The New Room was built by John Wesley as a place forpreaching and education, a dispensary and also as a lodging forhimself and his itinerant preachers. John Wesley travelled around250,000 miles on his nationwide preaching tours. Many of the sitesincluded in the booklet are linked to this journey and to thedevelopment of Methodism in the 19th Century.

Jo said: "Our Methodist Heritage sites have never had much centralsupport or promotion, and yet they represent a huge asset to theChurch's mission. Now we have a Committee to give oversight andencourage collaboration and an Officer to access advice and supportfundraising. Every Methodist Heritage place, artefact or archivehas a unique part of the story of Methodism to tell, and we haveover 100 historic gems for visitors to discover."

Details of how to order your free copy of the Heritage Handbook,visit www.methodist.org.uk/heritage.