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Rushden Echo, Friday, September 12, 1902, transcribed by Greville Watson


On Tuesday afternoon and evening the ordinary quarterly circuit meetings of the Higham Ferrers Wesleyan Methodist Circuit were held at the Park-road Wesleyan Church, Rushden. The circuit embraces eleven places of worship in Rushden, Higham Ferrers, Irthlingborough, Stanwick, and the surrounding villages, with a total of 504 members and 76 juniors. The gatherings on Tuesday were well attended by representatives from the different societies, and the proceedings throughout were of an earnest and encouraging character. The local preachers met in good force at four o'clock, and in addition to the ordinary routine business examined two candidates for admission to the plan. These were two brothers from Higham Ferrers, Messrs. W. and G. Driver, and both were cordially accepted. Following this a large and representative company was entertained to tea in the schoolroom by Mr. and Mrs.C.W.Horrell. After the repast hearty thanks to Mr. and Mrs.Horrell were expressed by Messrs. T.Sanders, I.Cunnington, and T.Patenall, all three also speaking hearty words of welcome on behalf of the circuit to the Revs. R.B.Woodward and D.Pughe on their settlement in the circuit. The Rev.D.pughe responded. After tea the general business meeting was held in the chapel and was largely aattended. The Rev.G.H.Hayes, circuit superintendent, occupied the chair, and the various subjects raised were discussed with considerable interest, all present carrying away a good and encouraging impression of the gathering.

Rushden Argus, Friday, January 9, 1903, transcribed by Greville Watson


On Saturday evening the annual tea and meeting of the teachers connected with the Park-road Wesleyan Sunday School was held in the schoolroom.  Tea was first partaken of by nearly fifty teachers, arrangements having been made by a committee of lady teachers, and the following presiding at the tables:- Miss Waring, Miss Deighton, Miss Stapleton, and Miss Causebrook.  The Rev.R.B.Woodward presided over the meeting which followed.  It was reported that the school was in good working order, and that the year had been a most successful one.  There was an increase of fifteen in the total number of scholars, and there was a financial balance in hand of £8 18s. 11d.  The election of officers resulted in the choosing of Messrs. A.Gadsby, C.W.Horrell, and J.Streeton as superintendents; Mr.C.Wagstaffe as treasurer; Mr.A.E.Bates secretary; and Mr.G.A.Wooding assistant secretary.  Several matters affecting the working and welfare of the school were discussed.

Rushden Argus, Friday, January 30, 1903, transcribed by Greville Watson


On Sunday afternoon a service of a musical character was held in the Park-road Wesleyan Church. The Rev.R.B.Woodward presided over a large congregation, and gave a short address. Mr.George Farey presided at the organ, rendering two selections on that instrument. In addition to the ordinary hymns, Mr.T.Clarke sang "Behold, I stand at the door and knock," and Miss E.Groome sang "O rest in the Lord" and "The gleaner's slumber song."

Rushden Argus, Friday, March 6, 1903, transcribed by Greville Watson


Their Work and Claims Advocated at Rushden

On Saturday evening a meeting was held in the Park-road Wesleyan Chapel, Rushden, to further the interests of the Wesleyan Local Preachers’ Mutual Aid Association.  The chair was taken by Mr.D.D.Chisholm (Wellingboro’), who was supported by the Rev.R.B.Woodward (resident minister), Mr.John Tearle (Luton), Mr.John Perkins (Northampton), and Ald.T.Patenall (Higham Ferrers).  There was a fair attendance.  After the opening hymn, prayer was offered by the Rev.R.B.Woodward.  The Chairman remarked that without local preachers Methodism especially would have greatly to curtail her work and ministry.

Alderman Patenall presented the report of the local auxiliary of the association.  This showed that there were 16 members connected with it, and that £8 17s. had been received in subscriptions during the year, and 13s. 9d. as entrance fees.  No less than £20 4s. had been paid in sick benefits.  In connection with the superannuation section about £22 had been raised in the circuit by collections and subscriptions of honorary members.  This included collections at Rushden £6 13s. 5d., collections at Higham Ferrers £5 8s. 4d., collections at Irthlingborough £5 5s., and £2 2s. from two honorary members at Higham Ferrers.  They had also one in their midst who for some time had received 8s. a week from the funds.  During the 13 years their auxiliary had been formed they had drawn out £125 more than they had paid to the central fund, including £13 12s. 11d. during the past year.  He appealed to the young local preachers to join the association, and to others to help as honorary members.

Mr.John Tearle gave an address on the work of the society.  Its influence and power were growing, for the maximum amount given to annuitants had been raised from 8s. to 10s. per week, and they had now 617 men who had helped the churches faithfully receiving help in their old age.  In the various Methodists’ churches they had 20,000 local preachers, and under God they owed much to the religious feeling of the country to the awakening through the work of John Wesley.  After touching upon the Romanising tendencies of the time, the “Daily News” church census, the new Methodist hymnal, and some of the hymns, the speaker urged all still to preach the old gospel with all their souls.

Mr.John Perkins referred to his own conversion through the words of a local preacher, and gave reminiscences of contact with many of them, expressing his pride at the belonging to their ranks, with a service of 45 years.  Their work was blessed, their message magnificent, and they needed all the equipment possible.  He paid a high tribute to the energy and devotion of the many men who had strived faithfully, and declared that there should be no rest till all were made as comfortable as possible.  He regretted it as a disgrace to any Christian Church to let any of its members go to the work house.

A collection having been taken on behalf of the Local Preachers’ Mutual Aid Fund, the Rev.R.B.Woodward proposed a cordial vote of thanks to the chairman and speakers.  This was seconded by Mr.T.Patenall, and after being accorded was responded to by each of the gentlemen concerned.  The Doxology was sung, and the meeting closed with the Benediction.

On Sunday services were conducted in the chapel, morning and evening, by Mr.John Tearle, collections being taken on behalf of the fund.

Rushden Echo, Friday, July 15, 1904, transcribed by Greville Watson


An impressive service was held on Sunday at the close of the evening service in the Park-road Wesleyan Church, taking the form of the public recognition of 23 new members. Fourteen of these candidates for membership were baptised, and all partook of the sacrament. The service was conducted by the Rev.R.B.Woodward.

Rushden Echo, Friday, September 16, 1904, transcribed by Greville Watson


Quarterly Meeting at Rushden

The Rev.J.W.Eacott presided at this meeting on Saturday at the Park-road Wesleyan Church, Rushden.

Mr.W.Capon was elected secretary of the quarterly meeting vice Alderman T.Patenall resigned; Mr.Burt, secretary of the Local Preachers' Mutual Aid Association; the Rev.E.E.Dewhurst, foreign mission secretary; the Rev.H.J.Atkinson, editor of the circuit magazine; and Mr.G.Bozeat, local preachers' horse hire fund secretary.

The returns of membership were:- Higham 126, Irthlingborough 128, Rushden 185, Stanwick 20, Riseley 37, Swineshead 9, Yelden 6, Little Addington 13, Souldrop 8, Knotting 7, Newton Bromswold 3; total 542, a decrease of two on the quarter.

The financial statement was presented by Mr.John Shortland.

At the close of the meeting the representatives were entertained to tea by a member of the church, and interesting speeches were made by Ald.T.Sanders and Mr.John Shortland (circuit stewards).

Rushden Echo, Friday, October 7, 1904, transcribed by Greville Watson


A meeting in connection with the Mothers' Meeting of the Park-road Wesleyan Chapel was held in the schoolroom on Wednesday evening for the purpose of making arrangements for resumign the meetings. Mrs.Watson presided. The following were elected officers:- President, Mrs.H.J.Atkinson; vice-presidents, Mrs.Short and Mrs.Dawes; secretary, Mrs.Church; treasurer, Mrs.Michell; tea secretary, Mrs.Nattrass. The first meeting will be held next Wednesday.

Rushden Echo, Friday, September 29, 1905, transcribed by Greville Watson

The first wedding solemnized in the new Wesleyan Church, Park-road, took place on Monday, Mr.H.G.Warren being married to Miss Mary Martha Lawman, of Cromwell-road.  The Rev.H.J.Atkinson officiated.  Following the custom, the bride and bridegroom were presented by the trustees with a handsomely-bound Bible.

Rushden Echo, Friday, October 27, 1905, transcribed by Greville Watson


The evangelistic mission conducted by Mr.Norwell was continued on Saturday evening when a “merrie meeting” was held.  Mr.Norwell gave a temperance address showing the comedy and the tragedy of the effects of drink.  Prior to the meeting a torch light procession took place.  At 11 p.m. there was another torch light procession, followed by a midnight meeting.  Crowded congregations assembled on Sunday.  In the afternoon a men’s meeting was held, the Mission Band and the Adult School choir taking part in the service.  Mr.Norwell gave an address on “Bowled out.”  On Monday night the mission was brought to a close, Mr.Norwell telling the story of his life.  The mission resulted, among other good work, in over 100 signing the pledge.

Rushden Echo, Friday, October 27, 1905, transcribed by Greville Watson


Strange Scenes at a Chapel

Can Such Meetings Do Any Good?

(By “Spectator”)

In connection with the special mission at the Park-road Wesleyan Church, Rushden, a midnight meeting was held on Saturday last.  Just as the last train arrived from Wellingborough and the public-houses and clubs were closed, a procession was formed at the railway bridge, and, headed by the Mission Silver Band, a large company of the workers of the Wesleyan Church marched along High-street and by way of Griffith-street to the Park-road Wesleyan schoolroom.  A number of torches served to make theprocession a very striking one.  The unusual proceedings attracted a great crowd of followers, and the schoolroom was soon filled by a motley gathering.  Mr.Norwell, the missioner, was in charge of the meeting, and the Adult School Male Choir occupied the platform, Mr.Flood being the pianist.

Evidently someone had a big amount of faith in the gathering, for at the platform end of the room was a long table, with numerous temperance pledges for signature.

From the very outset, the meeting was a turbulent one, the crowd being practically

“Out of Hand”

the whole time.  A start was made by singing the hymn, “All hail the power of Jesu’s name,” to the tune “Diadem,” and this was taken up with the greatest heartiness.  Then came the hymn, “There is a better world, they say,” and this, too, was sung with vigour.  As it was almost an impossibility for the missioner to obtain a hearing, he very wisely decided to have plenty of singing, and “Lead, Kindly Light” was sung with good effect.

The sight was one which burned itself into the memory.  The room was filled with men and women who for the main part had evidently spent the evening in the public-houses and clubs, and pretty nearly every stage of intoxication was represented – the maudlin, the over-friendly, the quarrelsome, the talkative, and the slumberous were all there!  Men and women, young men and young women, boys and girls.  Some “fresh,” some “elevated,” some “the worse for drink.”

O the tragedy of it!  The very flower of Rushden youth under the heels of the drink fiend!  Youths not 18 years of age as drunk as could be!  What

Rushden’s Future

will be it is not difficult to forecast unless the ravages of the intoxicating cup can be checked.  In the name of humanity, something must be done to arrest the terrible spread of intemperance, or the Rushden of the future will be like a hell upon earth.  To see youths still in their teens blear-eyed through drink is terrible, but to see young women whose modesty is being manifestly undermined through alcoholic indulgence is heart-rending.  The sight in the Park-road Wesley schoolroom last Saturday night and in the early hours of Sunday morning was appalling.

And yet, here is a gleam of hope.  Though the crowd will not listen to a religious address, they will sing hymns, and, s “Lead, Kindly Light” is being sung I notice here and there a token of remorse, and on more than one cheek I see the trickling tear.  Perhaps the familiar words and the equally familiar tune are making upon the

Drink-Benumbed Brain

an impression which will sink down into the conscience.

It is now 11.45 p.m.  Addresses being out of the question, the members of the Male Choir take up the work in a very telling manner, under the able conductorship of Mr.T.T.Clarke, the well-known hymn, “Sun of my soul.”  The choir always do well, and to-night they do splendidly.

Perhaps the audience will be a little less turbulent after another hymn.  So we all sing “Throw out the life-line.”  How well they seem to know it!  Again and again the chorus is sung.

Now it is midnight.  Mr.Norwell tries hard to gain a hearing, but the drink has unbalanced the judgement of the crowd, and the missioner’s effort is in vain, so once more the choir steps into the breach, singing “All hail the power of Jesu’s name,” again to “Diadem,” and they stick to their work bravely despite an attempt on the part of some youths to sing “The life-line.”

Near the door there is an uproar, and very speedily one noisy individual finds himself in the cool air outside.

Ejected Forcibly

by his chums.

Now we have a solo from Mr.Walter Howes, “You’ll reap whatsoever you sow.”  Yes, that is true enough.  Then, in the name of all that is pure and true, can’t someone get hold of these young fellows who are “sowing their wild oats” and warn them of the nature of the harvest they are preparing for themselves?

Once more the missioner starts a hymn, “O for a thousand tongues to sing.”  The tune is “Nativity” (often known as “Lyngham”), so closely associated with the Christmas carol, “While shepherds watched.”  These are the words which the audience connect with the tune, and before we get through the first verse we are all singing the Christmas hymn.

Several of the audience volunteer to sing solos.  Very wisely the offer is accepted in one case, and we have a splendid rendering of “The death of Nelson,” appropriately chosen in honour of Nelson’s Day.

Now it is 12.30.  The boisterous ones are less boisterous, and Mr.Norwell gets his chance of saying a few words.  Unfortunately he has not

A 20 Horse-Power Voice

– a necessity for meetings of this character – but most people listen to him as he tells of a brawny Shetlander who was killing himself with the drink.  “You are not only killing yourself,” said his sister, “but you are killing father and mother as well; you are breaking their hearts.  Will you give up the drink?”  “I can’t give it up,” was the reply.  “Yes, you can,” he was told, “if you say you can.”  Since that time, said Mr.Norwell, the Shetlander has been a sober man.

Then Mr.Norwell applied the lesson to his hearers.  “Drink is your ruin.  It will ruin you, body and soul.  I want you to-night to give it up.  Perhaps you had Christian fathers and mothers, and they prayed for you.  How many of you are prepared to sign the pledge to-night?”

“I am!” cries one study fellow.

“That’s right,” said Mr.Norwell, encouragingly, “come this way!”

The pledge is taken amid the

Incredulous Sneers

of some of the audience and the delighted smiles of the workers.

Then we wing with rare heartiness “There is a fountain filled with blood,” during which personal persuasion is used, and the effect of this individual effort is that one man after another comes forward and pledges himself in writing that by divine assistance he will in future abstain from all intoxicating liquors.  One of the signatories takes the precaution of giving his whiskey bottle to the young ladies who are taking the pledges, and it is treasured as a trophy captured from the enemy.

Now we sing “Jesu, Lover of my soul,” and again the old favourite, “Lead, Kindly Light,” during which many of the audience disperse, but others come to the table to “sign on” as total abstainers.  From one of the audience we have a solo, “Rocked in the cradle of the deep.”  Then, as a wind-up, we all sing the revival hymn, “When the roll is called up yonder,” with its rollicking chorus.

Can such meetings possibly do any good?  A sufficient justification of the meeting is the fact that

About 30 or 40 Signed the Pledge.

“But some of them will soon break it again!”

Of course they will, but some of them will keep it.  Why do I think that?  Because I attended a similar meeting a couple of years ago, conducted by the Rev.David Pughe, and I know personally of several men who signed the pledge there and who have kept it ever since, – men who are now sober, steady, good citizens of Rushden.

But there is another good result from such gathering.  It is absolutely necessary to hold meetings of this kind now and again if we are to learn how the young men of Rushden are spending their Saturday nights.  The whole affair was a terrible demonstration of what drink is doing.

Would that something could be done to prevent so many of our young people

Going To Wellingborough

on a Saturday evening.  It is there were so much of the mischief is done.  If you doubt it, just go one Saturday night and watch the last train come in from Wellingborough.  You will learn something.

One thing is certain.  Unless effective steps can be taken to save the young men of Rushden they will be damned – physically, morally, mentally, socially, politically, financially – for hundreds of them, as could be seen last Saturday night, are headlong on the way to this manifold damnation.  If the old methods of fighting intemperance have not succeeded according to hopes and expectations, why in the world should not a few new methods be adopted?

Rushden Echo, Friday, November 24, 1905, transcribed by Greville Watson


“Have Miracles Occurred?”

The Rev.H.J.Atkinson conducted a special meeting for men in the Park-road Wesleyan Church, Rushden, on Sunday afternoon, a good congregation assembling.

Mr.Atkinson said that Christianity stood or fell with miracles.  Christ Himself based His claim for men’s acceptance of His doctrines upon His miracles.  A miracle was “an exception to the observed order of nature, brought about by God in order to reveal His will or purpose.”  Their views as to the possibility and probability of miracles would be determined by their belief as to the existence and attributes of God.  To Pantheists and Atheists the idea of miracles would be out of the question, but one who believed in a personal God and a moral order of the world should have no difficulty in believing in them.  Speaking frankly, however, philosophical arguments for or against miracles did not seem to him of much use.  If they believed inGod, the question resolved itself into one of historical evidence.  The great argument of those who objected to miracles was based upon the observed uniformity in nature.  He could not accept that objection, however, because, first of all, the Christian doctrine of miracles was based upon that scientific doctrine of uniformity in nature.  It was just that law which gave miracles their evidential value, for if no such law existed there could be no interference that would attract attention.

Again, the logical issue of such objection was that God was subject to law, and not the laws subject to God.  So on scientific grounds it seemed to him that the objection could not be defended.  The world is here; how did it come?  Either it existed from all eternity, or it was somehow created by a power outside itself.  It was incredible that it never had a beginning, but the argument for uniformity lead to the conclusion that there was no beginning.  If thelaws had always been invariable they never had a beginning.  On the otherhand, if the world was created there was a time when that much-boasted uniformity did not exist, and it must have a beginning.  What had begun to be could be modified and altered.  The start of nature itself was a miracle, as it was an immense deviation from the order existing before.  The sceptic might say he did not believe in the creation story but as an evolutionist he believed that the universe came to be as at present through a long process of gradual change.  But a follower of Darwin should be the last to argue against miracles, for one of the main points in his theory was that of accidental deviations from the rules.  Themain principle of evolution, as he understood it, was that in themighty struggle for existence different accidental deviations from type were found to be of advantage, so were preserved and developed into the permanent types as they knew them to-day.  Mr.Grant Allen, an evolutionist, told them that “on occasional freaks of nature the whole evolution of new varieties depends.”  Christianity itself could not be accounted for except on the ground of miracles.  If Christ possessed no power beyond that of men, whence came the disciples’ strong believe in Him?  Nor could they explainthe growth of the Christian Church without miracles.  Miracles were necessary to justify the importance attached to a faith in Christ.

Several questions were asked and answered.

Rushden Echo, Friday, December 22, 1905, transcribed by Greville Watson


Rev.H.J.Atkinson on “Doubts and Doubters”

Addressing a well-attended men’s meeting in the Park-road Wesleyan Church, Rushden, on Sunday afternoon, the Rev.H.J.Atkinson spoke on “Doubts and Doubters.”

Unquestionably, he said, there were many honest doubters, and with such he had the greatest sympathy.  As to the causes of honest doubt, one was in the mental idiosyncrasies of different people, some being so constituted that they could not help passing through a period of questioning; some found difficulty in believing the supernatural at all, and held that the resurrection of Christ and other miracles could not be comprehended.  The objection to miracles was an old one, and had often been answered.  It was long ago pointed out that a thing was not incredible in itself just because it might seem incredible to some people.  The cause of doubt was often to be found in hasty, superficial reasoning, men assuming the incredibility of miracles and then refusing to examine the evidence which had satisfied minds more powerful than their own.  The perplexities arising from modern science were connected mainly with astronomy, geology, evolution, and comparative religion.  He did not know that there was anything contradictory between the Old Testament and the discoveries of modern science, but even if there were he did not see any reason why they should be disturbed.  The Bible was not designed to teach science, and the suggestion was that the writers were inspired as religious teachers, and were left to the notions of their own times for science.  Inspiration must be for some particular purpose, and anyone with any acquaintance with Biblical literature would not speak of the teaching of the Bible as shattered.  He had personally never been satisfied that the theory of evolution was true, and even if true it would not necessitate giving up one’s faith in Christianity, which did not stand or fall with any particular theory of the origin of man, but with the miraculous facts connected with the name of Christ.  And it was possible to hold a view of evolution which would leave the old view of the dignity of man’s origin untouched, for a Dr.Dallinger had told them that there were two great breaks in the theory, one touching the appearance of life on the earth, and the other the appearance of man.  As to comparative religions, they were told that what was supposed to be peculiar to the Christian religion was met with in more ancient faiths.  But that was no reason why their faith in Christianity should be disturbed, for all the religions of the world came from one common source, the primitive patriarchal religion.  Again, was it incredible that God should have guided some heathen philosophers to certain modern and religious truths?  And so, those truths were from the same source as Christianity itself.  But Christianity was built upon the works of Christ as explained by those who knew Him, and grew out of their faith in His miracles and resurrection.  Mr.Atkinson then spoke on the problem of pain.  He did not think that, apart from man, there was nearly so much pain and suffering as some supposed.  Further, so far as the suffering of the human race was concerned the greater part of it was not caused by God, but by man’s foolish violation of thenatural and moral laws of the world.  God could not prevent the evils they saw around them without destroying themoral government of the world.  They could not have moral government without moral freedom and if they had moral freedom some might be wrong and bring suffering into the world.  But let them never forget that Christianity was the only thing that really professed to deal with those evils.  Christianity set in motion forces which if allowed to work would destroy nearly all the evils of the world and as for the others it promised to all who accepted it that all tears should be wiped away in the rest that remained for the people of God.

At the close Mr.Atkinson answered several questions.

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