Gunwen - William O'Bryan's Chapel (1803)

The first of the Methodists to leave was William O’Bryan. Bryant or as he called himself later O’Bryan, was born at Gunwen in Luxulyan in 1778. He gave land for a chapel to be built at Gunwen and he helped to build it. He had a zeal for evangelism; writing ‘I felt a deep sense of duty laid on me to seek the wandering souls of men.’ He put himself forward as a candidate for ministry but was refused, probably because he was unable to work with others. He proposed a radical revision of the Methodist constitution, believing, amongst other things that preachers should be supported by voluntary giving and not by set payments from the society. For this he was expelled by his society in 1810; expelled from the chapel he had helped build, and he started to preach in areas where there was no society; he soon had a following. After a few years evangelising on his own he formed the Bible Christians in 1815. There were revivals in half a dozen places in Cornwall and by 1851 there were 21,661 in Cornwall; six percent of the population. People were drawn to the Bible Christians because they were less authoritarian than the Methodists. O’Bryan’s association with his denomination was short; he could not get on with people and spent a large part of his life in America. He died in 1868.

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