The Christian Heritage Centre in Rowley Regis recently hosted two lectures on church history.
The first, by Martin Wells, focused on Joseph Herrick: a 19th century dissenting minister in Colchester. Martin highlighted Herrick’s bravery in the face of opposition, even from his own congregation.
Herrick ministered to his church for 51 years, despite ambitions to oust him. Once, the chapel’s trustees even had the roof removed in order to precipitate Herrick’s departure!
The ploy worked and Herrick was forced out of the building. However, his congregation remained loyal and they secured a new building.
Opposition persisted. Herrick’s detractors sought to regain control of the trust deed by alleging there was an outstanding debt on the new building.
Herrick endured endless wrangling and accusation but remained faithful and was blessed. His fascinating story serves to encourage ministers who face times of opposition.
Roland Burrows then spoke on Primitive Methodism, another godly work which faced opposition from the establishment. Its backdrop was the turbulent times of the Industrial Revolution.
Early adherents were from the countryside – areas characterised by social vices and unrest – but gospel preaching did much to bring change.
The Primitive Methodists prospered throughout the 19th century. Spurgeon was converted in one of their chapels and allowed the group to hold annual meetings at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
Infiltrated by liberalism, the denomination faltered at the end of the century. Adhering to the Bible, it was strong; succumbing to liberalism, it became little more than a fond memory.