Exhibition celebrating women in Methodism in Epworth

Dr Jill Barber, vice president of the Methodist Conference, who performed the opening ceremony. She is pictured outside Epworth's  Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in the town's High Street.

Dr Jill Barber, vice president of the Methodist Conference, who performed the opening ceremony. She is pictured outside Epworth's Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in the town's High Street.

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Methodists from across the world descended on the tiny town of Epworth when it held an exhibition in tribute to women in Methodism.

Around 100 people were invited to the event and came from across the UK and as far afield as India, Nigeria and Ireland.

Some of the crowd that gathered for the official opening of the exhibition. People from as far afield as Nigeria and India attended the ceremony

Some of the crowd that gathered for the official opening of the exhibition. People from as far afield as Nigeria and India attended the ceremony

The event celebrated the role of Methodist women in Britain from the 18th century onwards, in an exhibition entitled ‘Transforming the World from the Kitchen’.

The venue for the exhibition and the centre of the Methodist celebration was Epworth’s Old Rectory, which was built in 1709 and is an accredited museum and a Grade 1 listed building.

After an official ribbon cutting ceremony and during an opening speech at the event, vice-president of the Methodist conference, Gill Barber, said: “It is wonderful to be here. The exhibition tells the story of women in the Methodist Church and it is a story that needs to be told.”

She added: “The speed of growth of Methodism is through women in a domestic sphere.”

The exhibition, highlighting the role of women in the religious movement, will run until October. It will tell the story of these women in Britain from its earliest period.

On arrival at the Old Rectory visitors and guests enjoyed fruit punch and biscuits and were met by De Mowbray’s Musicke playing a selection of medieval instruments and songs.

Everyone gathered on the front lawns for a welcome speech from Graham Carter, chairman of the Rectory trustees, followed by a short speech from Anne Browse, President of MWiB, who then introduced Dr Jill Barber, vice president of conference who cut the ribbon to officially open the exhibition.

Guests sang a Methodist hymn and offered up a short prayer, then were serenaded with two Wesley hymns sung by members of the Isle Choral Society as they entered the house to see the exhibition which is mainly organised into one of the downstairs rooms with some other items and portraits in other rooms around the house.

After their visit to the house and the exhibition and an opportunity to look around the gardens all the visitors walked down to Wesley memorial Church where they enjoyed a short service, followed by high tea, and further address from Dr Jill Barber.

The collection is to remain housed at the Old Rectory after the exhibition is ended, which a Rectory spokeswoman said was a great addition to the already extensive collection of Wesley artefacts. The Old Rectory is open for the rest of the season to the end of October, on it’s normal summer opening hours, and the exhibition will be available to view by all visitors who come to the house.

The Methodist movement is often accredited with providing the influence that led to the start of the co-operative movement and trade unions.

The exhibition celebrates the movement that was started by John and Charles Wesley over two centuries ago.

Epworth, where the movement began, is famous throughout the world as the childhood home of the clerics John and Charles Wesley, who founded a movement that went on to spread across the world.

John was an Anglican minister who, along with his brother Charles and fellow cleric, George Whitefield, are credited with the foundation of this evangelical movement.