I only read one chapter this week in Bob Black and Keith Drury's, The Story of the Wesleyan Church. So far it's been:
Chaps 1-2 About Wesley and the origins of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in abolitionism
Chaps 3-4 About its activist early days that were low church, pro-women (and anti- some other things)
Chaps 5-6 The post-Civil War let down, when the best and brightest returned to the Methodists
Chaps 7-8 Birth of Pilgrim Holiness Church
Today, chapter 9
I'll confess that I'm not 100% sure what to make of this chapter, mainly because I can't see beyond my own life's interaction with God's Bible School in Cincinnati, Ohio. I grew up with quite a positive view of GBS, having a brother-in-law who taught there, as well as some extended family who attended there. Then I went through a period of thinking it rather separatist and legalistic. More recently I've picked up on a spirit of brotherhood and desire for broader engagement.
All that is to say that I'm not sure what to make of Seth C. Rees leaving the early version of the Pilgrim Holiness Church, soon for the Nazarenes, just as I'm not quite sure what to make of Luther Lee going back to the Methodists. And how stupid of Martin Wells Knapp to deed GBS to God, creating legal problems after his premature death! But what should we make of the fact that a number of very well known figures wandered through but didn't stay: Oswald Chambers, Lettie Cowman (Streams in the Desert)? The Cowman's founded OMS.
Nevertheless, I resonate with the spirit of innovation that seemed to characterize the proto-Pilgrims. They advertised revivals on umbrellas when the city told them they couldn't advertise. They were quite disobedient to the city of Cincinnati--Eleanor Roosevelt stepped in at one point so they could bus in 30,000 poor children to a Thanksgiving dinner. The Pilgrims knew no division between helping the poor and downtrodden and evangelism.
Some familiar Wesleyan Methodist features emerged around the turn of the century as well. The YMWB I grew up with is one example--kids giving a penny a week for missions. WMS, the Women's Missionary Society started about this time. Both these elements of my childhood have been changed over time. Predictably, the Wesleyan Methodists were strong supporters of Prohibition--along with most Protestants. The anti-catholic/anti-immigration dimension to the movement thus peeks its head here.