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New course delves into history and practice of Methodism

Students of theology, lay preachers, worship leaders and aspiring ministers now have a practical way to study the ideas and history of Methodism in their own homes.

The Ecumenical Institute of Distance Theological Studies (EIDTS) has added a year-long course in Methodist Studies to its curriculum for 2007. Its purpose is to introduce and analyse the history, theology, and evolution of the Methodist Church.

Director of Trinity College’s ministry development unit Rev Dr David Bell compiled the course and will serve as its tutor.

David says it aims to give students a basic knowledge of the thought of John and Charles Wesley and how Wesleyan theology has been applied and changed in churches and missionary fields. Students will also explore the relevance of Wesleyan theology in contemporary New Zealand.

“The course looks at the Methodist Church as a global institution, its origins in England, and its development in Aotearoa New Zealand and the South Pacific. It covers Methodism in its international context and in the bi-cultural context of New Zealand. It should serve as a way to get congregations to come to grips with their own history.

“It can be used in a variety of ways. Trinity Theological College students will be required to take it, and long-qualified lay preachers may want to use it as a refresher course. The first part of the course has been reproduced to use as study material at parishes and synods.

“The assignments are not all essays. Students are required to present their ideas creatively, especially toward the end of the course. This is a big spin off for students. They will create a teaching and preaching resource they can use in their parishes.”

David says the course draws together lot of material from very skilled teachers of Methodism in New Zealand. They include Keith Rowe, Jim Stuart, Donald Phillipps, and Terry Wall. Jim Stuart serves as moderator for the course.

Students receive a study guide and use a required textbook that is a collection of John Wesley’s sermons. Each month students will read and respond to six sermons until they have read the standard 44 sermons. The study guide and additional material is also available on a CD, and a long list of suggested readings is also provided.

EIDTS director Very Rev Bruce Hansen says the institute offers courses in ministry studies, biblical studies, theology, ministry and mission, and church and community. EIDTS courses relate faith to daily living, practical skills and pastoral care.

“The Methodist Studies course stands alongside course we now offer on Presbyterian Studies and Anglican Studies. It can be taken as stand alone paper or along with other papers for ministry studies,” Bruce says.

For further information on the Methodist Studies course at EIDTS call 0800 667 969 or visit