The years 1842-53 mark a transition period in the history of Primitive Methodism. From being a loosely jointed home mis sionary organization, the movement developed on the lines of a real connectionalism. One of the first steps was to move the Book Room and the meeting place of the executive committee to Lon don. Soon after came the gradual process by which the circuits handed over their mission-work to a central Connexional Com mittee. The removal to London was proof that the leaders were alive to the necessity of grappling with the rapid growth of towns and cities, and that the Connexion, at first mainly a rural move ment, had also urban work to accomplish. The period 1853-85 finds Primitive Methodism as a connection of ten federated dis tricts, a unity which may be described as mechanical rather than organic. Conference—the supreme assembly—was a very jealously guarded preserve, being attainable only to preachers who had travelled 18 and superintended 12 years, and to laymen who had been members 12 and officials io years. This exclusiveness nat urally strengthened the popularity and power of the districts, where energy and talent found a scope elsewhere denied. Thus Hull district inaugurated a bold policy of chapel-buildings; Nor wich that of a foreign mission ; Sunderland and Manchester the ideal of a better-educated ministry ; Nottingham district founded a middle-class school; Leeds promoted a union of Sunday-schools, and the placing of chapel property on a better financial footing. The period as a whole had some anxious moments; emigration to the gold-fields and the strife which afflicted Wesleyan Method ism brought loss and confusion between 1853 and 186o. Yet when Conference met at Tunstall in the latter year to celebrate its jubilee it could report 675 ministers and 11,384 local preachers, 132,114 members, 2,267 chapels, 167,533 scholars and 3o,988 teachers.
Work in Australia and New Zealand prospered, and the former country finally contributed over r r,000 members to the formation of the United Methodist Church of Australia, New Zealand with its 2,600 members preferring to remain connected with the home country. In the United States there had been a quiet but steady growth since the first agents went out in 1829. There are now three Conferences—the Eastern, Pennsylvania and Western, with about 7o ministers, too churches and 7,00o mem bers. The Canadian churches had a good record, consummated in
1884 when they contributed 8,000 members and 'co ministers to the United Methodist Church of the Dominion. In January 187o the first piece of real foreign missionary work was begun at Fernando Po, followed in December of the same year by a mission on the Orange River in South Africa. This station is the centre of a polyglot circuit or district and carries on an efficient institu tion for training teachers, evangelists and artisans. In 1899 another South African mission was started, and a few years later work was begun in Southern Nigeria.
Since 1885 Primitive Methodism has been developing from a "Connexion" into a "Church," the designation employed since 1902. At home a Union for Social Service was formed in 1906, the natural outcome of Thomas Jackson's efforts for the hungry and distressed in Clapton and Whitechapel, and of similar work at St. George's Hall, Southwark. Other significant episodes have been the Unification of the Funds, the Equalization of Districts and the reconstruction of Conference on a broader basis, the Ministers' Sustentation Fund and the Church Extension Fund, and the enlargement and reorganization of the college at Man chester. This undertaking owes much to the liberality of Sir William P. Hartley, whose name the college, which is affiliated to the Victoria University of Manchester, now bears. The Chris tian Endeavour movement in Great Britain derives, perhaps, its greatest force from its Primitive Methodist members; and the appointment of central missions, connectional evangelists and mission-vans, which tour the more sparsely populated rural districts, witness to a continuance of the original spirit of the denomination, while the more cultured side is fostered by the Hartley lecture. In 1932 the Primitive Methodists combined with the Wesleyan Methodists and the United Methodist Church to form the Methodist Church.