Corn Exchange, Brighton (1877)

We quote the following from a most interesting letter sent to the Hon. Secretary of the Evangelisation Society by Mr F Bishop chairman of the local committee for the special services to which it refers:-

The large Corn Exchange, capable of seating 2,000 persons, was engaged for the fortnight commencing Monday, April 9th. The first evening the weather was really stormy, but through the stormy rain 500 or 600 came to hear Mr Cleworth. 

The second evening there were about 1,200 present, and the attendance and interest continued to increase afterwards till the whole place was filled, and at the closing meeting not only every seat but every foot of standing space was packed, and the doors had to be bolted to keep out the crowd who were still trying to press in. On the two Sundays there were crowded meetings, both in the afternoons and evenings, and overflow meetings were also held, first in the Music Hall by Mr Wood and afterwards in North Road lecture hall by George Tuffen. And on each Sunday morning Mr Cleworth, held also meetings for Christian workers at eight o'clock, which were attended by about 200 persons.

A special service for children was advertised for Saturday afternoon, April 21. The weather proved so unfavourable that a poor attendance would have caused no surprise, instead of which however the Corn Exchange was filled with at least 2,000 children and young persons of all ranks and classes, who listened with rapt attention to Mr Cleworth's simple, earnest address. He presided also, and gave short expositions of Scripture, every day at the noon prayer meetings held at the Pavilion, at which the interest and attendance increased daily, till the large room and ante-room together could hardly contain the numbers who came.
From these simple facts you may judge how interesting and effective Mr Cleworth's addresses have been. With nothing in the
least sensational or oratorical in his matter or style, he has told in earnest, loving tones and unadorned language, the old, old story of redeeming love. The rivetted attention with which the vast assemblages listened to the young preacher through the forty or forty-five minutes of his addresses have shown again that the grand old Gospel still maintains its power to touch the human heart "and satisfy its longings as nothing else can do." The results already apparent have been most encouraging. Very many testimonies, both written and verbal. have been of blessing received at the meetings; and the names and addresses of nearly 200 anxious and inquiring ones have been taken down at the after-meetings, to be followed up by further 

The Committee were very desirous, on the closing of the large meetings at the Corn Exchange to bring the work of evangelisation to bear more directly upon the masses who never hear the Gospel, who will not attend any place of worship, and who are living and dying almost as ignorant of Christianity as any heathen. For this purpose it was decided to commence a series of smaller meetings simultaneously in several of the lowest districts of Brighton, and the Committee thankfully availed themselves of the valued ofter of your Society to supply them with as many suitable working-men evangelists as they could employ.

On Monday evening, April 23, Thomas Johnson began a course of meetings at the Old British Schools, Eastern-road, and, George Tuffen began another at the Lecture hall, North Road. William Taylor (late a navvy) began a third course at the Belgrave Street schools on the 25th and arrangements have been made to begin a fourth course at Cliftonville next week. The interest already awakened by the simple appeals of these working-men evangelists, amongst the working and lower classes shows that it is the right agency for grappling with the special needs of the population; and we look for large blessing to result from their labours during the next few weeks.

"The Christian," May 3rd, 1877.

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