The following extracts from minute books throw light on church life during our history.
December 20th 1880. Reference was made to the Tract Distribution Society. Brothers Newcombe and Bennett to select 800 Tracts from the Stirling Tract Society. For the purposes of distribution the town was divided into sixteen districts. It was said very few refused the Tracts.
January 17th 1895. Annual meeting of Band of Hope. Programme included recitation, music and two addresses. There was a good attendance and friends showed their appreciation of the programme, which lasted over 2 hours, by remaining to the end.
The Band of Hope was no doubt necessary when an Exeter brewery was offering its ale at 14p gallon. Incidentally a bumper crop of apples in 1829 reduced the price of cider to 2d a quart. Its cheapness led to excess. The earliest Methodists had seen no harm in moderate drinking.
One wonders what the concert was really like since the writer seems to think it remarkable that the audience had remained throughout the lengthy proceedings.
A Wesley Guild was formed in November 1899. By June 1900 it had a membership of 24, with an average attendance of 18. Memories of the Guild meetings include lively charades, in which Mr V. Tennant took a leading part, and were so gripping that the audience forgot it had to look for a word.
On Wednesday August 1st 1900, the Rev L.B. Dalby gave his popular lecture entitled “Admiral Blake of Bridgewater and the Dutch” to an appreciative audience. This may have been Mr Dalby’s swan song as he left the circuit later in the month.
A minute of March 20th 1901 mentions the presentation of a silver mounted malacca cane to the Rev G.H. Armitage, in appreciation of his work in Crediton as a missioner.
May 1st 1901. Visit of Exeter Wesleyan Cycling Club, numbering over 30. An open air service was held. The evening closed at 8.20 to enable the cyclists to reach Exeter at an early hour.
March 12th 1902. A minute said “seat rents to be reduced as an experiment, for one year, from 1/3d to 1/-d per sitting.”
September 21st 1904. It was agreed the new MHB be introduced on October 23rd, Fifty to be ordered for Visitors. (A further 24 were ordered in July 1906). Obviously members were expected to provide their own books.
Hymn books change, and after Methodist Union in 1932 a new MHB was published, hence we read on March 6th 1934 “Trustees agreeable to Leaders adopting new hymn book (but without any charge on the trust). Then, on June 12th 1934 it was agreed to write to Mr E.J. Stoyle and thank him for the supply of hymn books.
The Wesleyan Church Record of the Exeter Circuit describes an event which took place at Crediton in 1929. The report says ‘A very successful Sale of Work was held on December 18th to help pay for the new heating apparatus. J.C. Skewes, Esq., presided, and Miss Betty Brock (accompanied by her mother and grandmother) opened the sale. Tea was provided in the church room, and at 7 p.m. a concert was held. Numbered programmes were sold at 1/- each. Every holder of a programme received a prize, brought by a group of fairies and others dressed in costumes to represent nursery rhymes. Several valuable prizes were given, such as a wristlet watch, gent’s watch, dressed dolls, etc. The evening closed with a laughable display, showing how Farmer Giles bought and worked a wireless set. The sum of over £60 was raised, with subscriptions. We have over £100 in the bank towards the cost of installation (£140).
The same issue also said ‘We offer our heartiest congratulations to Miss Kathleen Tuck, our Organist and Sunday School Secretary, for having so successfully passed her final examination of the A.B.RA.M. and R.C.M. We hear she is working very hard for her L.R.A.M. and wish her every success.
February 6th 1907. Chapel Anniversary to be held on April 7th, preacher Rev J.H. Morgan, and that he give his popular lecture on Rowland Hill on April 3rd.
March 4th 1908. Decided to provide a new notice board for use outside the chapel, to be paid for from the proceeds of a lecture, to be decided on later.
August 9th 1927. An estimate was received for electric light of £28.9.0. Mr Stoyle offered to secure shades etc. for the above, at cost price, through a friend.
September 17th 1939. The use of the large schoolroom as a YMCA Centre for soldiers was approved.
September 24th 1939, The use of small room as a reading and writing room and adjoining room as a recreation room for table tennis, darts etc. was approved.
January 24th 1940. Referring to the Boys Brigade it was asked that greater control be exercised over this organisation, owing to its tendency to get out of hand.
February 2nd 1947. A request from the Wesley Guild was approved asking permission to have a ping pong table. A condition was made that play ceased before 9.30 p.m.
There was also a flourishing Tennis Club in connection with the Guild. They played on courts at Penton and Exhibition Road. Today, many church members meet regularly on the premises for badminton.
Discussion of Methodist Union began in January 1923. A vote of February 3rd 1925 showed three for, three against and eight neutral. Union of the three main branches of Methodism was achieved in 1932. Local union took longer, but a meeting on April 12th 1951 said “we agree that union of our two churches is necessary and divided witness is wrong.” Eventually the Bible Christians and the Wesleyans united in 1954.
In 1952 for the Diamond Jubilee of the Church, a booklet of quotations was produced with contributions from friends far and wide. A Jubilee Service was held, conducted by Rev. Dr. Maldwyn Edwards.
January 5th 1957. It was reported that the Congregational church had donated a safe they were disposing of.
Collections during 1893 varied between 10/3½d on January 1st and £14 on August 6th. Most collections were for the extinction of the debt, with quarterly collections for Circuit, Mission and local preachers horse hire fund. A collection for this on August 13th raised 14/9d. A collection on July 21st 1895 for Worn Out Ministers amounted to 16/5½d. On September 8th the collection was for the sick nurse association and raised £1.19.8½d, 3½d was added to make it £2. Other good causes were Kingswood School, Exminster Chapel, and The Indian Famine Fund. This, on March 21st 1897 raised £2.14.0d. The Christmas Day collection in 1899 raised 16/6½d for Stephenson’s and Barnardo's Homes, Obviously the worn out Ministers could not compete with the sick nurse, and were only marginally more important than the horse.
On March 9th 1902, 1/11d was deducted as 2/-d had been put in in error.