Rushden Argus, Friday, February 20, 1903, transcribed by Greville Watson
Advocated at Rushden by the Rev.J.Havelock Thompson
In continuation of the anniversary of the local auxiliary of the Wesleyan Methodist Home Mission Society, a public meeting was held in the Park-road Wesleyan Church, Rushden, on Friday evening. The chair was taken by Mr.E.Claridge, who was supported by the Rev.J.Havelock Thompson, of the Great Queen-street Circuit, London, and the Rev.G.H.Hayes (superintendent of the Circuit). There was a fairly good attendance.
After the opening hymn, prayer was offered by the Rev.G.H.Hayes, and afterwards the Chairman said he was pleased to be with them, as he felt it was a good thing to cultivate a friendly spirit between the different religious communities. The subject that Mr.Thompson was to speak of was a most interesting one, and those of them who were teachers would have been, to some extent, prepared by the Sunday school lessons recently taken describing the missionary labours of Paul and Silas. Every church which was what it ought to be had a desire for mission work.
The Rev.G.H.Hayes gave the annual report of the Home Missionary Society, showing a total income of £35,831 2s. 5d. Higham Ferrers circuit contributed a total of £14 2s. 3d. The fund had helped the circuit for many years, and probably they would still need help for many years.
The Rev.J.Havelock Thompson, after explaining that by the recent change in the arrangement of the fund every penny given to it was spent directly in Home Mission work, proceeded to deal with the spirit and method of Home Mission enterprise. He claimed that the Home Mission work was first of all in harmony with their oldest and best traditions as Methodists. The face of England was changed as a result of the movement started by John Wesley, but great evils still confronted them in thelife of England to-day. There was still a heathen England, and the speaker described several striking cases, showing absolute ignorance of the scriptures and religion amongst different classes of society. The way in which the Lord ’s Day was desecrated in the Thames Valley, the open vice on every side must give them all pause, and to every man caring for Jesus Christ came the urgent call that came to John and Charles Wesley. The Home Mission work appealed to their patriotism. To him the real “Little Englander,” was the man blind to the moral and spiritual life of the nation. Whilst not saying a word against the soldier or sailor, the first line of Britain’s defence was the Bible, and in contributing to Home Mission work they were helping the truest defence of their country. Good work was being done in the army and navy; in “poor” Circuits, making it possible still to keep the light where otherwise there could only be darkness; and in the large centres of population, giving fresh heart and power to the workers, and filling their places of worship. In conclusion, the work was under the blessing of God, and was in obedience to His word. The greatest effort for the evangelisation of the world would be to save England. This could not be done by legislation, but through regeneration by the spirit of God. The address was followed with the closest attention, and frequently applauded, and various facts cited, and illustrations used clearly impressing the audience. A collection was taken on behalf of the Wesleyan Home Mission fund.