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Title: Church and chapel : parish ministry and Methodism in Madeley, c.1760-1785, with special reference to the ministry of John Fletcher
Author: Wilson, David
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis examines the ministry of John Fletcher (1729-85), vicar of Madeley, Shropshire (vic. 1760-85) as a case study on the Church of England and Methodism in the eighteenth century. Studies of Fletcher have tended to focus either on his contribution to Methodist theology or on his designation as Wesley's successor as the leader of the Methodists. The parish of Madeley has been, for the most part, peripheral to Fletcher studies. The present thesis, however, has aimed to examine Fletcher in his parochial context; to study both what the parish tells us about Fletcher, but also what Fletcher tells us about the parish, and more specifically, about the church in the eighteenth century in a local context. The main argument of this thesis is that Fletcher's ministry at Madeley was representative of a variation of a pro-Anglican Methodism--localized, centred upon the parish church, and rooted in the Doctrines and Liturgy of the Church of England. Three recent publications have provided a triad for understanding Fletcher: (1) in his industrial context; (2) in his theological context; and (3), in his relationship with leaders in the Evangelical Revival. This thesis has sought to examine a fourth component: Fletcher's work as an ordained clergyman of the Church of England, that is, in his ecclesial and ministerial context. The main body of the thesis focuses on two primary aspects of Fletcher's parish ministry: his stated duties and his diligence in carrying out other responsibilities and meeting other needs which arose, including addressing the various tensions which developed during his incumbency. Fletcher's background and his call to parochial ministry as well as the religious history of Madeley are outlined first (Chapter 1). There are three chapters which examine his performance of stated duties: worship services and preaching (Chapter 2); pastoral care andeducation (Chapter 5); and confrontation of erroneous doctrine (Chapter 6). Fletcher's ministry also included a scheme of church extension, represented primarily by his development of religious societies on which other aspects of his parochial duty built (Chapter 3). His evangelicalism and commitment to his parish simultaneously raised tensions between Fletcher and his parishioners (provoked by his 'enthusiasm' or zeal), and between Fletcher and John Wesley, whose variations of Methodism had similar aims, but different models of practice. A chapter is devoted specifically to these issues (Chapter 4).Fletcher's chapel meetings formed an auxiliary arm of the church, operating as outposts throughout his parish. His parishioners considered his ministerial model a 'Methodist' one even though it was not technically part of Wesley's Connexion (other than the fact that his itinerants were guests in the parish). In all, it is the conclusion of this thesis that Fletcher's pastoral ministry represents some of the best work of Anglicanism in the eighteenth century, demonstrating that despite the manifest challenges of industrializing society, residual dissent, and competition from the church's rivals, the Establishment was not incapable of competing in the religious marketplace.
Supervisor: Gregory, Jeremy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Madeley ; John Fletcher ; Mary Bosanquet Fletcher ; Shropshire ; Industrial Revolution ; Eighteenth Century Church ; Methodism ; Charles Wesley ; Church of England ; John Wesley ; Wesleyan Theology ; Checks to Antinomianism ; Calvinist Arminian Controversy