Report to Conference 2019
As a by-product of the changes to the existing layout of Edgehill House in which the MHSI Archives are housed we were made a gift of surplus shelving which has allowed us to make more room for the valued records and historical material entrusted by individuals and congregations to the care of the Society.
One of the consequences of the renovations was the uncovering in a store of a very fine circa 1830 portrait of Gideon Ouseley (1762-1839) by the English artist John Jackson, RA (1778-1831). The Society decided to pay to have the painting professionally cleaned and restored to its original condition and it now hangs in the reading room of the archives. If any Methodist evangelist of the past captures the spirit of the post-Wesleyan age of Irish Methodism it was Gideon Ouseley, who was described by David Hempton as ‘the most flamboyant missionary of his generation … [whose] sheer colourfulness, eccentricity and crackling energy … [marked his] forty years as a missionary preacher in Ireland’.
We have continued to promote the study and appreciation of Irish Methodist heritage, through lectures, tours and the publication of the Society journal. The annual lecture in October was delivered to a large and appreciative audience by the Rev. Ken Todd on the influence and contribution to Irish Methodism of the English-based lay-training Cliff College. He provided a comprehensive list of those from Ireland who studied at the college and considered the importance of its ethos, as a training seminary and the extent to which its emphasis on evangelism, holiness and temperance helped shape generations of potential Irish ministers and lay workers.
In November the Society welcomed Dr Peter Forsaith to Dublin where, with his role as custodian of The Methodist Art Collection, he acted as guide to the exhibition hosted by the Royal Hibernian Academy and sponsored by Dublin Methodism.
The Society is grateful for the welcome given to its members and friends on its annual pilgrimage in May this year to visit the congregations at Moira, Glenavy, Craigmore, and Ballinderry Moravian church; all of them communities that have a rich heritage but demonstrate a thoroughly contemporary approach to Christian witness and involvement with the society in which they are located.
Our final but most important word of thanks is to our members and the circuits around the Connexion for the generous support both financial and prayerful that sustains the ongoing work of the Society.