The 1860 Jubilee Celebration
The first major celebration of the Primitive Methodist Connexion was the 1860 Jubilee, as agreed by the 1859 Conference, with arrangements communicated and reported to the members not least through the Primitive Methodist Magazine. These celebrations appear to have faded into the background against the better recorded and later Centenary celebrations.
Those celebrating were aware that for all of them this was the only Jubilee they would have the opportunity to take part in. The motivation was that “Through the gracious provision of God we are permitted to see the fiftieth year of our blessed community” and give thanks that “a few pious, praying, believing, zealous men and women united their energies.”
Their was concern over the then state of the Connexion. Issues expressed were the lack of widespread revival, the perceived low state of personal religion, and especially no educational system of their own. But more so concern over “the deplorable feasts and excursions of Sunday Schools, with their evil tendencies” -apparently too often not an overtly pious activity.
Connexionally the 1859 History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion by John Petty, and the Jubilee medallion marked the Jubilee. Locally the events were:
1 March 11th– a day set apart for Jubilee reflection and fund raising for the Jubilee fund. The magazine encouraged that “our denominational Jubilee should prompt us to give an increased impetus to all our institutions.”
2 May 27th- Jubilee Camp meetings, some circuits required all preachers to take part in this event,(like Wirksworth in Derbyshire) others designated 12 or 14, (like Epworth in North Lincolnshire) compared to the normal five preachers for a Camp meeting. At Bilston on the day the weather was unfavourable, with only one stand resulting, but with 13 speakers speaking “in old Primitive Methodist style.” Typically a Lovefeast concluded the day.
3 Jubilee Tea meetings: the date of which varied from circuit to circuit. The larger ones were reported as at Leeds on June 20th with 2,200 attending, but in August 25th Manchester reported a MONSTER Jubilee tea meeting in the Free Trade hall, with two sittings of 3,000, and a further 1,200 in an upper room. A total of 7,200.
As the writers and correspondents noted this was an “opportunity that would never occur again,” for the individuals concerned. The inscription on the Jubilee Medallion names it as the first Jubilee, indicating that there was at the time the expectation that second would occur.