We uphold the Bible-believing stance of the early leaders of 18th century Methodism, men such as John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Wesley and John Fletcher. Whitefield was the great pioneer of open air preaching, and it was he who encouraged his friend John Wesley to do the same. Wesley gradually appointed other men to help him in the task of taking the Gospel to vast numbers of previously unreached people.
These ‘lay’ preachers’ were men called of God to proclaim salvation in Christ. They travelled around the country, preaching under an open sky in fields and town centres. Through their endeavours, along with the work of a small number of evangelical clergy with ministries in fixed locations, England, by the grace of God, was gradually re-awakened in the 18th century to the truth of the Christian Gospel. Even secular historians acknowledge that their Bible-based preaching helped to rescue England from violent social upheaval and revolution, such as occurred in France in 1789. Historically, therefore, Methodism represents a mighty revival of true Christianity.
PFMC was founded in 1808 as a fruit of this re-awakening. Some of the preachers who first ministered to the congregation at Penn had been personally appointed by John Wesley.
The early Methodist preachers’ doctrine very rightly centred upon the individual’s need for salvation and the new birth, blessings to be received, not through good works such as donations to charity, nor through the sacraments and other rituals of the Church, but through faith alone in Christ. These preachers depended solely on the Holy Spirit to convict their hearers of the sinfulness of their hearts and to draw them into a personal trust in Christ for mercy.
John Wesley wrote in his Journal on 8th April, 1750: “I preached morning, afternoon and evening, and then exhorted the society to stand fast in the good old Bible way, and not to move from it, to the right hand or to the left”. This total reliance on the Bible as the direct revelation of God and as our sole authority continues to be the stance of PFMC today, as we endeavour to uphold the principles of the Protestant Reformation. We thus go to Scripture, God’s word, to determine all matters of faith and practice. We continue to proclaim what the early Methodist preachers proclaimed, namely the Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen again that men might know salvation and everlasting life.