Methodist Heritage Committee
The Methodist Heritage Committee is appointed by the Methodist Council to protect, advocate and advance the interests of Methodist heritage throughout the Connexion, with a particular focus on the role of Methodist heritage as a tool for the contemporary mission aims of the Methodist Church.
The membership and responsibilities of the Methodist Heritage Committee are governed by Standing Orders approved by the Methodist Conference (see The Constitutional Practice and Discipline of the Methodist Church Volume 2 Standing Order No. 337).
The Methodist Heritage Committee may include up to 13 members: a chair, four trustees (one each appointed by the respective trustee bodies of the four main heritage sites), the liaison officer for Methodist archives ex officio, a Connexional Team Secretary (or his/her representative), and up to 6 other persons chosen to ensure that the committee has expert knowledge, experience and skills in areas such as:
The Methodist Heritage Officer convenes the Committee, but is not a voting member.
Chair, Sarah Friswell
Sarah Friswell became the Chair of the Heritage Committee in January 2012. In her working life she is the Public Relations Manager at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Suffolk, where she is responsible for all communications, including liaising with the media, volunteer management and the Ministry of Welcome to visitors. This is a role she took up in 2009 having been the Visitor Officer at the Cathedral for the previous 8 years. She is part of the senior management team and the Cathedral's strategic planning group. She is passionate about the need for churches to offer an excellent welcome to all.
Sarah has over 20 years experience in the tourism industry, including working in overseas marketing for the former East of England Tourist Board, working at the local Tourist Information Centre and being a Blue Badge guide for Bury St Edmunds, where she has lived for 16 years. She has been the Chair of Visit Suffolk Attractions since 2008, convenes the Eastern Cathedrals marketing group, and served on the Council of Cathedrals' Plus from 2002-2008.
A lifelong Methodist, she grew up in Hull, worshipping at Anlaby Park Methodist Church. From 1992-95 Sarah and her husband David worked for USPG (United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) in Malawi, Central Africa, where Sarah taught English and French at a girls' secondary school.
Since moving to East Anglia, Sarah has become a member of the District World Church Action team and represents the District at the World Mission Forum.
In 2011 she was elected a member of the British Committee of the World Methodist Council and attended the World Methodist Council and Conference in Durban, South Africa. She sings with the choir at Trinity Methodist Church and is a member of the Messy Church team.
15 Covell Close, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 2HU
John Bell is the North-West Methodist heritage sites representative and a Trustee of Englesea Brook Chapel & Museum, which focuses on 19 th C working-class life and religion and Primitive Methodist history in particular. John has been a member of the Englesea Brook Chapel & Museum Management Committee, appointed by the Chester and Stoke District, since 2005. For the past year, he has been Chair of its Executive Committee. He prepared and updated the EB Forward Plan, including long-term financial forecasts.
John's professional career (1964-2000) was spent with Philips Electronics, initially as an economist and statistician, then in Information Technology management as Head of Corporate Management Services for Philips UK, Managing Director of Philips Communications and Processing Services UK (570 staff), Global Director of Business for major clients, and finally, before taking early retirement in 2000, as a Board consultant to assist with the restructuring and sale of a global business.
In the Methodist Church, John has been a local preacher since 1968, and held many church, circuit and district offices. He was Vice-President of the Methodist Conference in 2005-06. He was a governor of Farrington's School (whilst living in Kent), and serves(d) on various Connexional committees and as Chair of the Ministerial Candidates Selection Committee, the Business and Economic Affairs Advisory Group and the Conference Business Committee. He was part of the Scrutiny Group that exposed the serious financial issues at Epworth Old Rectory in 2005.
Currently John acts as a Trustee/Director and Company Secretary for a Manchester-based charity working with deprived young people (turnover £1.4m) and was previously Treasurer of another. He is a Director of Christian Guild Hotels. He offers his wide business experience - particularly in finance, strategy, problem analysis and change management - to the Church and other organisations with whom he works.
Gary Best is Warden of The New Room/John Wesley's Chapel, Bristol, and the South-West Methodist heritage sites representative and a Trustee of The New Room.
Gary was educated at South Shields Grammar-Technical School and won an Exhibition Scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford, where he obtained an MA in Modern History. He was a History teacher at King Edward's School, Bath (1974-80), Head of History and then Head of Sixth-Form at Newcastle-under-Lyme School (1980-87), and Headmaster of Kingswood School, Bath for 21 years (1987-2008). While serving at Kingswood, he was responsible for creating its 'Wesley Centre' and appointing its archivist. He has been a Chairman of HMC South-West, a Chairman of South-West ISIS, and helped the ESU select students for its American programme. He has been both an HMC and ISI Inspector.
Gary is a Methodist local preacher and for 21 years he was involved with the Methodist Board of Management for Independent Schools. He also served for over a decade on the Executive Committee of the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges, and Universities (IAMSCU). In September, 2009 Gary became Warden of the New Room in Bristol, which is generally regarded as one of the most important Methodist heritage sites in the country. Prior to that Gary was one of the trustees of the New Room. He is currently a research fellow at Wesley College, Bristol.
Gary's publications include Seventeenth-Century Europe (Macmillan), Continuity and Change: Kingswood School 1748-1998 (Kingswood), John Wesley (Kingswood), Shared Aims (Methodist Board of Management), and, most recently, Charles Wesley (Epworth Press) and Transforming Lives (Epworth Press).
J Keith Cheetham is the independent adviser to the Committee on tourism. Having spent 36 years in the tourist industry, Keith is well qualified to advise the Committee on marketing Methodist Heritage and fostering links with the travel trade including coach companies, tour operators, incoming tour operators (bringing in overseas groups), travel writers and travel media and, as appropriate, with Blue Badge tourist guides.
Keith spent the first 14 years of his career as the City of Sheffield's first Conference & Tourist Officer and was responsible for numerous national and international marketing projects. During this time he was elected as the first provincial Chairman of the British Association of Conference Towns.
In 1988 he was invited by Heart of England Tourist Board to set up Black Country Tourism for the boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Wolverhampton, where he lives, and for nine years became its first Director.
He has since worked as a freelance tourism consultant, travel writer and historian and also runs the Black Country Hotels Association (of 22 major hotels). He has been involved with Methodist Heritage for over 20 years and paid a number of visits to North America to further its cause with the United Methodist Church. He has also represented Methodism as a trustee of the Churches Tourism Association.
Keith is the author of five books, each of which are aimed at the tourist industry, including On the Trail of John Wesley , published by Luath Press Ltd of Edinburgh - the first of its kind for over 40 years.
Dr Deborah Gaitskell has a PhD in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Its focus included Methodist women missionaries and African female church groups in 20th-century South Africa. She has been active from the start in the annual conferences of the Methodist Missionary (Society) History Project, and is now on the committee.
Deborah has taught extensively in secondary schooling, adult education and various university settings (most recently at the Institute of Education, but also SOAS, Birkbeck and Goldsmith's) and is now researching South-African Methodist ecumenical leadership and the first black President of Conference. With others (including the Methodist archivist at SOAS), she helps run a new seminar on Christian Missions in Global History at the Institute of Historical Research.
Deborah grew up in Cape Town and (from an Anglican home) became a Methodist in her teens. She has been active for many years in her local church in north London (with Leslie Griffiths, at one stage, her minister).
The Revd Dr Stephen Hatcher is an independent member and advises the Committee on the development of Methodist heritage sites. Although not a 'museum professional' (i.e. he is without professional qualifications in museum-ship and with limited wider museum experience), Stephen has extensive experience of developing a Methodist heritage site himself, having established Englesea Brook Chapel & Museum from scratch.
Today, it is a strongly mission orientated 'heritage and outreach project' with 1.8 paid workers, a turnover of over £80,000 pa and a strong media profile . His innovative ideas for combing heritage and mission have included establishing a Victorian working-class life and funeral re-enactment programme and citizenship projects for schools, fundraising ("really hard work!") especially by organising second-hand book sales, and a cottage-library development. He has never been afraid to 'buy-in' professional advice when required and with this help Englesea Brook Chapel & Museum was the first Methodist museum to be 'Accredited' by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (achievement of nationally agreed standards for museums in the UK in how they care for and document their collections, how they are governed and managed, and on the information and services they offer to their users).
Stephen is Chair of the Methodist Heritage Sites' Network, which aims to link up and support the development of Methodist heritage sites, in particular the smaller sites and historic chapels, giving him a Connexional perspective. He was previously a member of the Methodist Archives and History Committee.
Stephen is has travelled 40 years as a Methodist minister (27 in circuit, 1 for study, and 12 at Englesea Brook Chapel). He read Theology and Methodist History for his BD (London) and PhD (Manchester). He has a strong focus on Primitive Methodism, especially within the religious and secular movements in society from the French Revolution to the Second World War.
The Revd David Leese is the North-East Methodist heritage sites representative and a Trustee of The Old Rectory, Epworth. David is Superintendent of the Epworth and Crowle Circuit (17/1) based at Epworth's Wesley Memorial Methodist Church . He is a member of Methodist Council .
As well as being a trustee, David is a member of the Development Group for The Old Rectory, Epworth , Chair of the House Committee and a volunteer guide (when necessary), and he participates as a member of the Lincolnshire Tourism Forum.
David is passionate about Methodist history, and his personal Methodist history research interests are linked to Primitive Methodism and the Methodist New Connexion, particularly as both relate to North Staffordshire and Cheshire.
David has 30 years experience as a General Manger of acute hospitals and Director of a Health Authority, with skills and responsibility in the areas of performance management, governance, and human resources.
Eric Watchman is a native North Easterner, born and brought up in Durham City. After studying at Durham Johnston Grammar School, he read Biblical Studies at Manchester University while living as a "non-theolog" in Hartley Victoria College, a Methodist ministerial training institution.
Eric pursued a career in university library work, initially in Manchester and then in Durham. For twelve years before retirement he was a member of the senior management team, for a time with responsibility for public services. His main area of responsibility was in collection development and management, initially in cataloguing (including specialised early modern collections such as Sunderland Society of Friends Library) and latterly in heading collaborative projects to add Durham's holdings to online union catalogues (e.g script records for all Hebrew titles).
Eric has a general interest in Methodist history, particularly the Primitive Methodist movement in the Durham coalfield, from which tradition his family came. On the Committee he offers a North East heritage perspective, as well as library expertise.
Eric has been a Local Preacher since 1982. At Circuit level he has held a range of offices and currently serves on the Darlington District leadership team as Co-ordinator for the Use of Resources, seeking best use of human, physical and financial resources, and has served on the Methodist Church's Ministerial Candidates Selection Committee.
The Revd Jennifer Potter is a Trustee of Wesley's Chapel , City Road, London, and the South-East Methodist heritage sites representative. She is currently serving as a minister at Wesley's Chapel, where she has been stationed since leaving the post of International Affairs Secretary in the Connexional Team in 2002.
Jennifer was a geography and history teacher for over 25 years at secondary level. She was awarded a BTh (Hons) in Missiology from UNISA (Pretoria, South Africa) with specialisation in cross-cultural communication/mission. Her practical and academic background in mission, especially in cross-cultural communication, is of special relevance to the multi-ethnic background of large numbers of Methodists and others in London and other major cities.
She has contributed to the annual Methodist Missionary (Society) History Project Conference, with papers based largely on her work on Edwin Smith (of Zambia) (SOAS, 1974) and the development of Methodism in present-day Botswana (University of Botswana, 1986). She has experience of relating mission and heritage in a number of different contexts both in Britain and overseas. Jennifer is a long-term member of the Yorkshire Branch of the Wesley Historical Society.
Jennifer trained to be a Heritage Steward at Wesley's Chapel, House & the Museum of Methodism in 1997. Today, she is Chair of the Heritage Stewards Meeting (three meetings annually, each of which has a guest lecturer, as well as tackling 'business matters') and the House & Museum Committee (comprising 50:50 of museum professionals and Methodists with expertise in history and heritage). She l ectures to local history groups in Islington, leads ' h eritage explorer' days for other Methodist churches and local Anglican/ Methodist groups, and provides input on Wesley and Methodism for groups of confirmation candidates from local churches. Since 2008, Jennifer has been the Wesley's Chapel representative to the Islington Museums' Network and the London Small Museums' Network
The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin is Connexional Team Secretary for Internal Relationships and links the Committee into the Connexional Team and wider church.
The Revd Dr Martin Wellings advises the Committee on Methodist history and theology.
Martin read Modern History at Oxford, and then researched Evangelical Anglicanism at the turn of the 20th Century for a thesis that was published in 2003 by Paternoster Press under the title Evangelicals Embattled . He has published essays recently in Studies in Church History , in the Oxford Handbook of Methodist Studies, and in the T & T Clark Companion to Methodism .
He trained for the ministry at Wesley House, Cambridge, and has served since 1992 in circuit appointments in Brackley, Kidlington and Oxford. He is currently Superintendent Minister of the Oxford Circuit and Synod Secretary of the Northampton District, as well as being convenor of the Faith and Order Committee's Methodism Resource Group.
He is co-editor of the forthcoming Ashgate Research Companion to World Methodism , Book Reviews Editor of Wesley and Methodist Studies , and President of the World Methodist Historical Society for the 2006-11 quinquennium. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an Honorary Fellow of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre. He served as Chair of the Archives and History Committee 2004-10. He combines a personal and professional interest in Methodist history and heritage with experience of the mission of Methodism at all levels of the Church.
Philip Thornborow is the Liaison Officer for Methodist Archives, in which role he provides strategic support for the Connexional management of the Methodist Church's historic archives and modern records.
Having studied Geography at the University of Durham, Philip's postgraduate qualifications were obtained from the Universities of Leicester (M.A. English Local History) and Northumbria (Postgraduate Diploma in Librarianship, M.Sc. Records Management). His M.Sc. dissertation examined the complexities of introducing modern records management into the Methodist Church, and a version of this (widening the focus to British nonconformity) was subsequently published in The Records Management Journal .
Between 1977 and 2012 Philip worked in the University sector as a librarian, specialising in what is currently known as resource discovery and management, and as a records manager. He managed the Archive at the University of Northampton for a number of years, and the Library special collections for the past ten years. As a resource manager in a new University his focus was on access, particularly to electronic materials, and Philip will be encouraging the promotion and use of the Methodist archives.
Philip is a life long Methodist, and has experience of record creation as an office holder at all levels of the church. He was Connexional Archives Liaison Officer between 2007 and 2009, advising the church and external enquirers, and coordinating the District Archivists. He is the son and husband of local preachers.
Philip's role involves him in providing advice across the whole continuum of a record's existence, from creation through the various forms of retention to the re-use of the record by researchers and family historians. Where appropriate, advice will be published on the Methodist Church website, and Philip has written a short guide for family historians.
4 Brown Avenue
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The Revd David Hart has served as an ordained Methodist presbyter since 1986 and currently is the Superintendent of the Bristol and South Gloucestershire circuit. His research interests include the social and theological impact of the eighteenth-century evangelical revival, the development of the Methodism in the first half of the nineteenth century. He is an member of the adjunct faculty of Trinity College, Bristol, where he is developing work in Church History and Wesleyan Studies, especially exploring the theology of church history and heritage on contemporary models of mission.He is also the Conference Officer of the Wesley Historical Society, currently preparing the society's next triennial conference in June 2014 on the theme of Methodists and Conflict . David is a member of the committee of the Ecclesiastical History Society, and is currently engaged in writing on Wesleyan Methodism in the 1790s.
His interest in methodist Heritage has been an important ingredient in his research, and he has wide experience of using Methodists archives and records, both in the custody of the church and in secular collections in various parts of the country. He also has supported the management of Methodist collections and is working with the team at the New Room in Bristol in the developing new educational and heritage programmes.
Victoria Methodist Church
Tel: 0117 952 0115