Religion, Gender, Industry

CfP: a conference in Shropshire, June 2009

Religion, Gender, Industry: Exploring Church and Methodism in a Local Setting
16-18 June 2009
Madeley and Ironbridge, Shropshire
This international conference and complementary research programme is a joint project between:
Manchester Wesley Research Centre
The Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History
in co-operation with the Ironbridge Institute

This conference aims to attract both a general and specialist audience, and its success will depend greatly on both the range of interests as well as new and established scholars present.

It will bring together authorities in the areas of church history (Methodist, Anglican and other), theology and gender studies, with social and industrial historians as well as local historians from Shropshire. More generally, the wider significance of the people and events of this area will appeal to scholars from associated fields.

Madeley parish in Shropshire was at the heart of the early ‘industrial revolution’ around Coalbrookdale. Its Vicar between 1760-1785 was the Revd. John Fletcher, best known as an associate of the Wesleys, but with wider evangelical links. His widow, Mrs Mary Fletcher, continued to minister in the parish until her death in 1815, a rare example of female ministry.

Aims and outcomes

  • Fostering inter-disciplinarity between established and new scholars as well as others (such as local historians) engaged in sectors of religious, social and industrial history, gender studies and theology
  • Published papers from the conference
  • Website with blog for continuing discussion

The subject– In the eighteenth century Madeley [Church of England] parish in Shropshire included Coalbrookdale, the 'cradle of the industrial revolution', and Ironbridge, wherein the world's first iron bridge was built. The parish was the setting for a succession of evangelical ministries by the Revd John Fletcher, his wife Mary (both associates of the Wesleys), her adopted daughter Sally Lawrence and her successor Mary Tooth, between 1760-1840. Madeley became the most notable instance of Methodism remaining within the Church of England, and was also remarkable for becoming a female-dominated parish ministry. Through examining this specific historic microcosm the conference will engage particularly with the following general areas:

  • Methodism’s roots and growth in relation to the Church of England
  • Religion and gender in eighteenth century Britain
  • Religion and emerging industrial society