Rushden Echo, Friday, January 4, 1901, transcribed by Greville Watson
Rushden’s Farewell to the 19th Century
A Warm Welcome to the 20th Century
At the Park-road Wesleyan Church there was a very large attendance at the watch-night service, which commenced at 11 p.m., and the proceedings were of a most impressive character.The President of Conference had, in view of the passing away of the century, recommended that in all the Wesleyan watch-night services the same hymns should be sung to the same tunes and at the same time all over England, and this suggestion was acted upon at Rushden. The Rev. J.Bentley gave an earnest address on the words, “Watch ye,” and the Rev. C.F.Groom also spoke most appropriately. He mentioned that at the beginning of the 19th century there were 92,948 members in the Wesleyan Connexion, while at the close of the century there were 481,061; at the beginning of the century the ministers numbered 328, whilst now there were 2,202; the chapels in the Connexion, which had at the beginning of the century numbered 500, now reached the total of 8,461. At the present time there were associated with the English Wesleyan Conference, besides the half-million members, no fewer than two million of adherents and 967,046 scholars in the Sunday schools, with 131,052 Sunday school teachers. Wesleyan local preachers at the close of the century numbered 19,956, so it would be seen that during the last hundred years the growth of Methodism had been astonishing. Shortly before midnight the company joined in singing the hymn, “Rock of Ages” to the tune “Redhead,” the last verse being sung very softly, the congregation all kneeling, and the instrumental accompaniment by Mr.C.Wooding was most effective. The last few minutes of the expiring year were spent in silent prayer, and, the new century being ushered in, the worshippers joined heartily in singing that time-honoured hymn,
Come, let us anew
Our journey pursue,
Roll round with the years.”
The Rev.C.F.Groom wished all present “a happy new year,” and a memorable service then terminated.