Methodism played an important part in the spread of Christianity from its European heartlands to the Americas, Asia, Africa and the Pacific. From John Wesley's initial reluctance, via haphazard ventures and over-ambitious targets, a well-organized and supported Wesleyan Society developed. Smaller branches of British Methodism undertook their own foreign missions. This book, together with a companion volume on the 20th century, offers an account of the overseas mission activity of British and Irish Methodists, its roots and fruits. John Pritchard explores many aspects of mission, ranging from Labrador to New Zealand and from Sierra Leone to Sri Lanka, from open air preaching to political engagement, from the isolation of early pioneers to the creation of self-governing churches. Tracing the nineteenth-century missionary work of the Churches with Wesleyan roots which went on to unite in 1932, Pritchard explores the shifting theologies and attitudes of missionaries who crossed cultural and geographical frontiers as well as those at home who sent and supported them. Necessarily selective in the personalities and events it describes, this book offers a comprehensive overview of a world-changing movement - a story packed with heroism, mistakes, achievements, frustrations, arguments, personalities, rascals and saints.
John Pritchard was the General Secretary, Methodist Church Overseas Division (MMS) from 1991 to 1996, having previously served as its Africa Secretary. He had been a missionary with the Methodist Church in Cote d'Ivoire - then a District of the British Methodist Conference - from 1966 to 1975, and was Secretary of the committee which drafted its constitution as an autonomous Church. In the 1970s he edited Urban Africa, a quarterly magazine published by the All Africa Conference of Churches. He chaired the interdenominational Friends of the Church in China for six years from 2000 and convened the Methodist Missionary History Project from its inception in 1994.