Bible Christians were a methodist connexion founded in 1815 in north Devon by William O'Bryan (1778–1868), a Wesleyan farmer of Anglican and quaker descent, an attractive but refractory personality. Despite a stress on lay representation, it maintained a strong view of the ministry, which included women. Closest in temper to primitive methodism, its political attitudes aligned it with dissent. Its emphases on mission and education were reflected in Samuel Pollard (1864–1915) of south-west China, and Shebbear College (founded 1841) under Thomas Ruddle (1839–1909), ‘the North Devon Arnold’. The Bible Christians joined with the New Connexion and United Free Churches in 1907 to form the United Methodist Church which, in turn, entered the methodist church in 1932.
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