Methodism: Shifting Balances, 1939–2010

Authored by: Brian Beck

The Ashgate Research Companion to World Methodism

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409401384
eBook ISBN: 9781315613789
Adobe ISBN: 9781317040996


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The historian who attempts a survey of the seven decades that comprise our period knows that any assessment must be provisional. Time needs to elapse before events can be properly evaluated or patterns observed. What is more, the second half of the twentieth century must be seen as the period in which world Methodism came of age. The story can no longer be adequately told, as the story of earlier periods largely has been told, from the perspective of the major missionary churches of Europe and North America. The demise of empire and the maturing of newly independent nations have been reflected in church relations. The full story of Methodism world-wide from 1939 to 2010 will depend on local histories, many of which have yet to be written, but for which much of the archival evidence, ironically, lies in the vaults of missionary agencies in Europe and North America. All that can be attempted in this chapter therefore is a broad overview through the eyes of a British observer of some of the ways in which Methodism has changed. 1 1

Invaluable resources for the period are: Russell E. Richey, Kenneth E. Rowe and Jean Miller Schmidt, The Methodist Experience in America (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, vol. 1 A History 2010, vol. 2 A Sourcebook 2000), and, on a smaller scale, John Munsey Turner, Modern Methodism in England 1932–1998 (Peterborough: Epworth, 1998). Chapters by R. E. Davies in his Methodism (London: Epworth, 2nd rev. ed. 1985) and in Rupert Davies, A. Raymond George and Gordon Rupp (eds), A History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, vol. 3 (London: Epworth, 1983) take the story to the date of publication. See also Kenneth Cracknell and Susan J. White, An Introduction to World Methodism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), Rex D. Matthews, Timetables of History for Students of Methodism (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2007), and Charles Yrigoyen Jr. (ed), T&T Clark Companion to Methodism (London and New York, NY: T&T Clark, 2010).

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