Methodism in Gibraltar and its mission in Spain, 1769-1842
In the context of Gibraltar's own history a description is given of how Methodism was taken to Gibraltar by soldiers who met together in small groups and founded the first Methodist Society there in 1769. After meeting with considerable opposition and persecution from the Established Church and others, the Methodist Conference decided to support the work by providing missionary ministers. The early work of building a chapel, fighting for their rights and gaining a degree of official sanction and protection is part of the story. The purpose of the church was always evangelism and a ministry to soldiers was justified because the soldiers and sailors travelled around the world and took the gospel message with them. Links with the British and Foreign Bible Society were established in 1807 as Bible distribution was seen to be an important goal and a useful means of evangelism. There was always an interest too in converting the local inhabitants of Gibraltar and this aim was furthered by the appointment of William Barber in 1824, as a second missionary, solely to work with them. This work was later developed by William Harris Rule who founded the first Mission schools in Gibraltar, which led to considerable opposition from the Roman Catholic population. In the 1830's Rule also attempted to establish Missions in Spain itself This was the time when George Borrow and James Graydon were also working in Spain for the Bible Society. A brief account is given of the work of all three, in the context of the political and religious situation in Spain, thus exploring the reasons why they were all eventually forced to leave the country and why a permanent Protestant foothold was not established in Spain at this time.