Minutes of the Early Methodist Conferences
[Minutes of the Methodist Conferences at London, Bristol, Manchester, and Leeds, between 25 June 1744 and 8 August 1771]. Manuscript transcription by Thomas Dixon.
[England, c. 1771]. (BRA2347)
The first annual conference of Methodist preachers met in London on 25 June 1744. As John Wesley noted in 1785, the succeeding annual conferences allowed Methodist ministers to raise questions of “how we should proceed to save our own souls and those that heard us.” After the open discussion for each question, Wesley himself would pronounce the agreed-upon answer that would be entered into the Minutes. As Albert Outler commented (John Wesley, 1964), the annual conference was “one of those strokes of practical genius that marked off Wesleyan Methodism from other vectors of the Evangelical Revival.”
This manuscript adds a valuable source to Bridwell Library’s documentation of the Methodist conferences held from 1744 to 1771. The manuscript is a transcription of the 1763 edition of Wesley’s expanded “Large Minutes” as well as the printed Minutes of 1765 to 1771. Thomas Dixon, who signed the front endleaf “Tho. Dixon’s book,” was a young Methodist preacher who represented various Irish and English circuits at the annual conferences from 1770 until his death in 1820. His manuscript apparently was intended to record the doctrines and policies established at the earlier conferences he had not attended. In 1772, the first year not recorded in this manuscript, a new edition of the complete run of annual Minutes became available in print.