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Jabez Bunting (1779-1858)

Jabez Bunting was born in Manchester, the son of a taylor. His family were devout Methodists and despite their poor circumstances managed to give their son a good education. While studying for a career in medicine, Bunting felt the call to offer himself for the Wesleyan ministry. He was accepted in 1799 and within a few years revealed himself to be a minister of exceptional ability.

Bunting served four terms as President of Conference, held office as the secretary of the Conference from 1814 to 1819 and again from 1824 to 1827. He was also Connexional Editor from 1821 to 1824 and played a leading role in the establishment of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. He was the main advocate for the setting up of the Theological Institution in 1834 for the training of ministers.

Bunting was without doubt the dominant figure in the Methodist Church of his day. His oustanding talent for leadership and organisational ability placed the Church on a more efficient footing, and provided the framework for continued expansion. His authoritarian style was however very controversial and resulted in several divisions and expulsions, most notably the Wesleyan Reform Movement of the 1840s.

Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974)

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