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John Wesley

John Wesley_edited.jpg

Christ Church was founded by the evangelical Christian Charles Roe to serve as a religious setting for the evangelical curate David Simpson.  Evangelicalism emerged during the 1730's within Protestantism and upheld the belief that the central message of the New Testament consisted of the doctrine of Salvation by Grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement.


The four tenets of the Methodist faith are:


Conversionism - the importance of the ‘born again’ experience;

Biblicanism – the high regard for biblical authority;

Crucicentrism – the idea of Christ dying as a substitute for sinful humanity;

Activism – the tendency towards preaching and social action.


Evangelicalism placed a greater emphasis on preaching to inspire a deep personal revelation amongst listeners. Thus, the design of evangelical churches such as Christ Church focuses on the preacher atop his high pulpit rather than the communion table.  The model draws inspiration from the auditory church, a major design typology of Sir Christopher Wren.


As John Wesley was barred from preaching in many parish churches, his attendance from 9th April 1777 emphasises Christ Church’s connection to the evangelical movement. Wesley's staunch evangelicalism later distanced him from the doctrines of the Anglican Church to such an extent that he founded the Methodist movement but remained within the established church. 


Wesley declared Christ Church to be "the most elegant I have seen in the kingdom" and its design may have influenced that of Wesley’s own City Road Chapel in London of 1778.


Christ Church never became a Methodist church, despite the new movement's influence on those involved.  John Wesley preached here at least 12 times but only once whilst Roe was alive, not wanting the church to be associated with the Methodist movement.  After Roe's death, David Simpson invited John Wesley back, but always maintained ties with the Anglican Church until just prior to his death.  Simpson finally decided to break from the Church and was to publish his declaration in the latest revision of 'A Plea for Religion and the Sacred Writings'.  However, he contracted a fever and died half a day before. The declaration was omitted from the publication. 


Christ Church's subsequent Reverend although well connected to the Methodist movement, witnessed a decline in his congregation's attitude to Methodism and he subsequently clashed with the movement.  Christ Church remained within the Anglican Church and later moved further away from evangelicalism as Victorian improvements saw the church reordered to fall in line with more conventional religious tastes.

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