Two Methodists are to set off on a three day walk to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Primitive Methodism, dressed in clothes from 1807.
If you go for a walk in the local countryside over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, you might find yourself in the company of a couple of people from the early 19th century.
On 25-27 May the Revd Jonathan Kerry and Anthea Cox are donning period costumes to walk over 50 miles from World’s End near Wrexham to Mow Cop near Stoke-On-Trent.
The walk is to raise money for the Methodist Church Fund for World Mission and to mark the 200th anniversary of the first open air Camp Meeting.
A special service will be held a Mow Cop on Sunday 27 May to celebrate the anniversary of the first open air Camp Meeting, which took place on 31 May 1807 and marked the origins of the Primitive Methodist revival. Many people are expected at the service, although most will travel by car or public transport.
For Anthea and Jonathan, however, the journey will take three days on foot. They will leave World’s End on Friday 25 May and arrive at Mow Cop in time for the service on the afternoon of the 27th.
The journey from World’s End will take them past Chirk, Ellesmere, Whitchurch, Nantwich, Crewe and Kidsgrove, calling in at the Museum of Primitive Methodism at Englesea Brook.
For much of the first day they will follow the Llangollen canal, including a dramatic crossing of the 130ft high Pontycyllte aqueduct. On Saturday they will follow country lanes as much as possible, although several features not found in 1807 will play a part.
“We have to deal with various dual carriage ways and of course the M6. We have found a route that sticks to the back roads as much as possible, which is not only nicer for us but also closer to the reality of two hundred years ago. Most of the early Methodist Preachers had to travel on foot, and we will be remembering them as well as taking time to appreciate the wonderful countryside" said Jonathan.
"We chose to start the walk at World’s End because we both liked the idea of starting at the End! And it recognizes both the work that the Fund for World Mission supports people throughout the world and the way in which primitive Methodists travelled many miles to preach. It is also good to start inside Wales, within sight of Offa’s Dyke, to remind us of all the history of this area. The birth of Primitive Methodism at Mow Cop was an important event in local history and in the story of The Methodist Church, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum. It took off because it appealed to the people of the time, and walking their landscape helps us to see that” Anthea said.
The Methodist Church is one of the largest Christian churches serving Great Britain, with nearly 300,000 members and regular contact with over 800,000 people. It has about 5,800 churches in Great Britain, and also maintains links with other Methodist churches totalling a worldwide membership of 70 million.
The walk takes place from 25-27 May. Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so online at: http://www.justgiving.com/methodistworldwalk