Leicester: A letter from Leicester Circuit
From the Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838
Dear Brethren, — Grace, mercy, and peace to you be multiplied. Amen.
It is supposed this town contains, now, about fifty thousand inhabitants. It has twenty-one dissenters’ chapels, and six churches. These places of worship vary much in their sizes: some will not seat two hundred, while others will seat perhaps above twelve hundred. And the average attendance is various; some being well filled, some three parts, and a few not half filled. Such are the conclusions of pretty competent judges. Hence twenty-five thousand will come up to, if not exceed the number of persons calculated to attend Divine worship. Thus it is supposed we have in the town of Leicester, (in the midst of England,) twenty-five thousand men, women, and children, who are without the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Does not this state of things impose rather a fearful responsibility on the children of God? Does not rather an awful claim rest somewhere? Are we, the P. Methodists, as a part of God’s church, in this town, clear? WE almost tremble to dwell on this question!
It is true, God has greatly blessed our labours, and hundreds have been converted to God since the first P. M. missionaries entered Leicester. But might not more have been done? At least, might not we in the name of God do more NOW? WE answer in the affirmative; and we are resolved to act according to our convictions. It is twenty years in March 1838, since the P. Methodists sent their first missionaries into Leicester. “The hand of the Lord was with them,” and signs and wonders were wrought, in- the converting line, under their ministry. Since then the cause has, at different times, passed through much trial. But according to the promise, “all things,” have worked “together for good.”
Many of the “first fruits” have been gathered home; and not a few have joined other communities. However, we stand at present as follows:—
Connected with both the chapels in the town, four hundred and twenty-seven members, four hundred and seventy Sunday scholars; including these, we have, it is supposed, from twelve to thirteen hundred persons under our ministry. Thus, as a church, we are strong in Leicester, and capable of enterprize. It is true, the low state of trade depresses our finances a little; but still our chapels pay their way; the society is healthly, prosperous, and in peace.
Much has been done in re-missioning, which has proved a great blessing to the town societies. But when we consider our strength in this town; the path in which God has led the Connexion, and in which he owns it most, that is, in missioning; and there being twenty-five thousand souls hastening to destruction! A MISSION! A MISSION! sounds in our ears and hearts! Yes, we are determined to mission as well as remission. Accordingly we have agreed to call out a fifth preacher, and then to appoint one of our present preachers to commence a mission in Leicester, on new ground. To take a room, if not two, nearly a mile from either of our chapels: and should the mission open, to make preparations to erect a third chapel in Leicester. All this will we do, asking God’s leave and help.
Thomas Morgan, President,
John Eckersly, Secretary.
Leicester, Dec. 19, 1837.
Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838. Page 111.