Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society

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Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society

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The Wesleyan Methodist Church, established in England, was based on the teachings of John Wesley, who died in 1791; its date of creation is generally given as 1795, when the Wesleyans separated from The Church of England. The British Wesleyan missions commenced in Newfoundland in 1765 or 1766; in the Maritimes in 1799 (replacing the American connection); and in Lower and Upper Canada after the War of 1812-1814, establishing themselves as far west as Niagara and St. Catharines by 1820. In the meantime by 1817, the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society had been formally established, assuming responsibility for missionary work around the world, including British North America. Problems over jurisdiction in the Canadas between the American Methodist Episcopals and British Wesleyans resulted in an agreement reached in 1820 whereby Lower Canada was allotted to the British Wesleyans (with the exception of the east side of the Ottawa River), and Upper Canada to the American Methodists (with the exception of Kingston). Lower Canada, after 1841 Canada East (Quebec), was organized as a District under the direction of the Missionary Society in 1817 and remained so until 1854, when it formally united with the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada already in existence in Canada West (Ontario). British Wesleyans were ready to return to Upper Canada by the early 1830s. A union between the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada and the British Wesleyans in 1833 in the establishment of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada averted conflict between the two groups (but resulted in the establishment of another Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada, 1834-1883/Fonds 6). This union, moreover, extended the control which the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society had in Upper Canada: to have final say on appointment of all Canadian Wesleyan ministers, most of the funds raised for missions, and appointment of a Superintendent of Missions. This and other divisive issues forced the dissolution of the union between 1840 and 1847. After the reunion in 1847, the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society began to withdraw from significant responsibility for mission work in Canada West and in British North America generally, although money for the work here continued to be provided. The first British Wesleyan missionary to be appointed among Canada's Aboriginal People was Thomas Turner in 1832; his mission bordered the St. Clair River in Upper Canada. In the late thirties, missions opened on the shores of Lakes Superior and Huron and after 1840 in Hudson's Bay Company territory. The Hudson's Bay Missions were administered directly from Britain until 1854 when they too became the responsibility of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada.


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