David Hempton was perhaps the first historian to alert us to the importance of money for the expansion of Methodism in a chapter on “Money and Power” in Methodism: Empire of the Spirit (2005). Here, Clive Murray Norris provides us with a detailed investigation across ten chapters of the role of finances during Methodism's first sixty years. For some, this rather prosaic topic may seem of little interest, but while religious movements may think of themselves as spiritual communities born in heaven, somebody still has to pay the bills. The primary costs involved during the period surveyed were the support of the itinerant preachers, and the construction and maintenance of preaching houses. Education, welfare, and missions had subsidiary roles. Each of these areas is covered in considerable detail here, along with a discussion of the means of support — freewill contributions from members and supporters, debt financing, and profits from the Book Room.Methodism's enemies sometimes claimed that John Wesley was taking advantage of his followers and that its adherents were being duped out of their money by religious conmen. Fortunately for the movement, methodical record keeping was a feature of its life and charges of financial misappropriation could easily
Journal of Religious History – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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