Methodist Church in Ireland
The Methodist Church in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

is a Wesleyan
Wesleyanism or Wesleyan theology refers, respectively, to either the eponymous movement of Protestant Christians who have historically sought to follow the methods or theology of the eighteenth-century evangelical reformers, John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley, or to the likewise eponymous...

Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

 church that operates across both Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 and the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 on an all Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 basis, It is the 4th largest Christian denomination in both jurisdictions and on the island as a whole. For the year ending 31 December 2007, there were 108 Methodist ministers, 230 Local Preachers and over sixty employed lay people in active work in Ireland serving 232 congregations, which combine to form a total community of 53,668 people. The governing body of the Methodist Church in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 is the Annual Conference.


For an overview of Methodism in Britain see the main article: Methodist Church of Great Britain
Methodist Church of Great Britain
The Methodist Church of Great Britain is the largest Wesleyan Methodist body in the United Kingdom, with congregations across Great Britain . It is the United Kingdom's fourth largest Christian denomination, with around 300,000 members and 6,000 churches...

The Methodist Church was founded by John Wesley
John Wesley
John Wesley was a Church of England cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield...

 and his younger brother Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley was an English leader of the Methodist movement, son of Anglican clergyman and poet Samuel Wesley, the younger brother of Anglican clergyman John Wesley and Anglican clergyman Samuel Wesley , and father of musician Samuel Wesley, and grandfather of musician Samuel Sebastian Wesley...

 during the 18th century initially as a movement within the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

. John spent much of his time preaching in Ireland and is said to have visited forty-two times, spending six years of his life on the island.

Wesleyan Theology remained close to the Anglican criteria of scripture, tradition and reason. It has been suggested that nobody who lived in the 18th century has influenced more people in the years since then John Wesley, and in the dissemination of that influence Irish people have played a significant role.

Methodist Belief

The Methodist Church as part of the worldwide church shares those core beliefs passed down from the time of the Apostles. Those beliefs are founded on the Bible and are summed up in the creeds, which are regularly used in Christian services of all denominations.

It is widely considered that the Protestant Reformation focused on three main matters of belief: the supreme authority of scripture; salvation by faith through faith in Christ, and; the priesthood of all believers. The Methodist Church affirms the importance of these matters.

John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) believed that certain aspects of the Christian Faith required special emphasis. Methodists today still hold to these emphases, known to them as, the 'Four Alls':
  • All need to be saved - "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) - Sin is a deep-seated self-seeking from which no-one is immune.
  • All can be saved - We can be saved from the consequences of our sin through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. This is a Gospel ('good news') for everyone - "God sent the Son into the world... that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:17)
  • All may know themselves saved - through the promises in scripture, the intense conviction of God's graciousness to us individually, and a different outlook on life leading to a changed quality of living - "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
  • All may be completely saved - there can be no limits on what God can do in our lives, as we are continually becoming more and more perfect in love for God and also our fellow humans


The Methodist Church in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 works on a democratic structure. There are no bishops or ordained hierarchy. Authority in the Church is vested in the Annual Conference and the trustees.


The small group (or 'class') has always been the lifeblood of Methodism... They have different names now, whether an Alpha Home group, prayer triplet, Bible study, or whatever: but the aim is the same - to encourage one another in the Faith.

Societies and Circuits

These small groups gather, along with other people, to worship together on Sunday and "to work and witness in the community throughout the week". These congregations (or 'societies') can be linked with up to six or seven other congregations in the local area to form a 'circuit'. The direction of a circuit is guided by the Quarterly Board, composed of one senior minister ('Circuit Superintendent'), other ministers, local preachers and a group of leaders from the member congregations.


There are 73 Methodist circuits on the island of Ireland, which have been gathered into eight 'districts' to co-ordinate and motivate at a more general geographical level. Each district appoints a Superintendent and a Secretary to oversee the work and provide pastoral support to clergy.


The annual conference is usually held over the second weekend of June each year. There are several boards and departments which work at the Connexional level to serve individuals and the Methodist Church in Ireland as a whole. Each year Conference elects an administrative and representative president for 12 months.

Social and Education

The Methodist Church has made a large contribution to Ireland both through education and social action.


The church has an emphasis on social action in society. One of the church's mottoes is that the organisation is "Friends of all, enemies of none". The Methodist Church maintains a number of "City Missions". Work carried out by the City Missions includes listening services, homeless help, retirement and nursing homes and various other self-help groups. Strongly emphasised is that the relief of social and personal needs are addressed irrespective of creed. The Methodist Church attempts to make a proactive contribution to society as a whole through its Council on Social Responsibility, World Development & Relief Committee and Home missions department. The Church can also claim a positive contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland.


The Methodist Church maintains two large secondary schools in Ireland, one north and one south. Methodist College Belfast
Methodist College Belfast
Methodist College Belfast , styled locally as Methody, is a voluntary grammar school in Belfast, Northern Ireland, one of eight Northern Irish schools represented on the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, and is a member of the Independent Schools Council...

 has made a significant contribution to the life of Ireland and internationally, with some distinguished past pupils including Ernest Walton
Ernest Walton
Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton was an Irish physicist and Nobel laureate for his work with John Cockcroft with "atom-smashing" experiments done at Cambridge University in the early 1930s, and so became the first person in history to artificially split the atom, thus ushering the nuclear age...

. Its counterpart in the Republic, Wesley College Dublin has a similar reputation. Famous past pupils of Wesley include George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 and Senator Gordon Wilson
Gordon Wilson
Gordon Wilson may refer to:*Gordon Wilson , former leader of the Scottish National Party*Gordon Wilson , leader of the British Columbia Liberal Party...

. The Methodist Church also maintains a number of primary schools in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

In addition to these schools the church also maintains a theological college at Edgehill which has been in existence for over 80 years. Edgehill is a constituent college of the Queen's University, Belfast and provides a series of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in theology, part time courses in faith and worship and other areas of church life as well as correspondence courses and seminars. Edgehill is the ministerial training college for the Methodist Church in Ireland. The church also owns an agricultural college in the Republic of Ireland called Gurteen College.

Children's & Youth Work

Methodism has had a long tradition of organised youth work for generations, the current organisation in charge of youth work is the Department of Youth and Children's Work. The first full time General Secretary was appointed over thirty years ago. It exists to establish links between the Church and children and young people, so that every generation in the church's life is appreciated and listened to. This involves representing and advocating youth and children's issues within the whole life of the Church as well as providing training to ministers and youth and children's workers.

The current General Secretary is Rev Dr David Rock, and his predecessors have included: Rev David Neilands; Rev Dr Johnston McMaster, Rev Winston Good and Rev John Knox, the Department's first General Secretary. Current members of staff are: Wendy Johnston (Administration), Janette McCormick, Nicky Blair & Raymond Ruttle (Children's Ministry) and Gillian Best, Lisa McPherson & Stephen McCann (Youth Ministry).

It offers a year out discipleship and evangelism programme known as Team on Mission (TOM) which is currently in its 23nd year; TOM succeeded the older programme known as YET. The department also runs a number of flagship events such as Follow the Star (an interactive prayer room for under 8s), Soul Mates (For ages 9–13) and Autumn Soul (for ages 13+).

Contribution to Northern Ireland

The Methodist Church and its members have made an arguably enormous contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland. It has often been said of the Methodist Church that of all the denominations the Methodist Church have caused the least obstruction and arguably made the greatest contribution to healing in The Troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

 (Senator Brian Hayes).

Dr Eric Gallagher
Eric Gallagher
Rev. Dr Eric Gallagher CBE, BA, BD was the former President of the Methodist Church in Ireland.In 1974 he was one of a group of Protestant clergymen who met with Provisional IRA officers in Feakle, County Clare in the 1970s to try to broker a peace after achieving a temporary ceasefire. The...

 is such an example. As president of the Methodist Church in Ireland he was the first Protestant churchman who met with IRA representatives in Feakle, County Clare
Feakle, County Clare
Feakle is a village in County Clare, Ireland. Its population in 2006 was 122. It neighbours Lough Derg and the towns of Tulla and Scarriff. Feakle is famous for its traditional music festival.-History:...

 in the 1970s to unsuccessfully try to broker a peace. The meeting was broken up by An Garda Síochána, but the fugitive IRA men had already left.

Gordon Wilson

Further commitment to the Peace Process was achieved from seeming tragedy in 1987. Gordon Wilson
Gordon Wilson (peace campaigner)
Gordon Wilson was a draper in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. During The Troubles Wilson was injured and his daughter Marie was killed in the Enniskillen Remembrance Day Bombing on 8 November 1987....

, a member of the Church was the father of Marie Wilson, one of 11 victims of the Enniskillen Remembrance Sunday Parade bombing by the Provisional IRA. He came to national and international prominence with an emotional television interview he gave to the BBC the same evening in which he described his last conversation with his daughter, a nurse, as they both lay buried in rubble.

Mr Wilson declared at the end of his interview that he forgave his daughter's killers and urged loyalist paramilitaries not to take revenge for her death. This was seen as a turning point in the peace process, that somebody so soon after such a disaster was able to forgive his own daughter's murderers. His contribution was honoured when he was invited to take a seat in Seanad Éireann
Seanad Éireann
Seanad Éireann is the upper house of the Oireachtas , which also comprises the President of Ireland and Dáil Éireann . It is commonly called the Seanad or Senate and its members Senators or Seanadóirí . Unlike Dáil Éireann, it is not directly elected but consists of a mixture of members chosen by...

 by request of the Taoiseach
The Taoiseach is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

 in 1993.

In 2005, The Church was once again thrown into the centre of the Peace Process as a former president of The Methodist Church in Ireland, Rev Harold Good, was asked to be an independent witness for the historic decommissioning of IRA
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...


Ecumenical Relations

The Methodist Church is a member of several ecumenical bodies, including the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

, the Conference of European Churches
Conference of European Churches
The Conference of European Churches was founded in 1959 to promote reconciliation, dialogue and friendship between the churches of Europe at a time of growing Cold War political tensions and divisions. It is an ecumenical fellowship of Christian churches in Europe; its membership consists of most...

, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is an ecumenical organisation. The members include most of the major churches in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. It was formerly known as the Council of Churches of Britain and Ireland...

, and the Irish Council of Churches.

Into the Future

In 1998 The Methodist Church in Ireland embarked on a period of reflection on its position within Irish Society which it called 'Dreaming Dreams'. Although in many areas of the country the Church is increasing in numbers it is aware that as a whole numbers are decreasing in church membership across the country in every denomination.

The church has since published its 'ConneXions' plan. The core vision of ConneXions is that each local Church will reflect the life of Christ in its own area. Each church was asked to participate in a community survey so as to find a policy in each church which will best match the needs of its locality. The Methodist Church hopes that this plan when fully implemented will put the entire connexion in a strong position for regrowth and redevelopment in the 21st Century whilst holding fast to the emphasises of the Weslyan tradition on which it was formed.

In 2002 The Methodist Church in Ireland signed a covenant for greater cooperation and potential ultimate unity with the Church of Ireland
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The church operates in all parts of Ireland and is the second largest religious body on the island after the Roman Catholic Church...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.