Wycliffe Chapel - Andrew Reed (1839)

This is a very unusual revival in that the pastor described the process in detail and you can find his booklet here:


Or see 'Stepney Revival' under revivalists tab for full script.

The pastor maintains that the revival happened as a result of the prayer meetings, which may be true, but I suspect that he picked up that the Spirit of God was hovering. From the first meeting in early October it was obvious God was up to something. The sad thing is that the revival did not spread to nearby churches. I think that this may have been because Reed specifically did not call any local minister for help. I suspect that had he done so it would have spread. His reason for not doing so was that he did not want people his congregation did not know as they may have been reticent in confiding to them.

What I find really interesting is something I read in Tom Lennie's, 'Land of Many Revivals'; evidently, a Congregational minister in Tewkesbury read out Reed's account of the revival to his congregation; they prayed and 58 were added to the church. also, a Baptist minister near London did the same thing and 57 were added to the church. Then a Wesleyan minister reported 1,600 added to the circuit as a result of his reading the account. 

The first half of the booklet is rather dour, being all about process, so I am doubtful if this was the part that inspired people so much, although it would have encouraged people to pray which of course is good. What I think stirred the Spirit in the churches was the great testimonies of young people who gave their lives to Jesus. The very least that the relating would have done would have brought people to tears!

I am going to do a summary of the first part of the booklet.

Andrew Reed was an outstanding minister, philanthropist and social reformer. He not only raised money for the building of several chapels, but he also set up hospitals and orphanages.

In the summer of 1838 his church had to close for repairs and Reed went on holiday as his health was suffering. On his return, he discerned that the spiritual intensity amongst his congregation had declined a bit. He then took some time to analyse the state of his congregation and worked out a process to try and improve their spiritual condition.

If I have a reservation about Reed's narrative it is that it appears to me to be too analytical. I suspect that this is what the pastors asked for; also I think it was in his nature and the church in those days was all about order and no excitement. The language is sometimes difficult to understand due to the old English and the way pastors used to speak in churchese.

This was the process that Reed believes enabled the revival:

Early October - prayer with the deacons for three hours. Reed was very impressed so clearly holy Spirit was already at work.

First Sunday morning meeting - he already perceived a difference. He asked people to set aside one hour per week to pray for revival.

Sunday evening - began a series of weekly talks on the Advancement of Religion. Reed noticed the beginning of an awakening in the congregation.

Reed would talk and pray with the deacons to get them all on the same page. He would also meet with the leaders of the other groups in the church such as the school and the praying men; all with the same purpose.

From January first he set up services and prayer-meetings every day except Saturday. This account does not mention every prayer-meeting or service.

Dec 31st - He held a service which was to be followed by a prayer-meeting, but after closing the service he noticed that hardly any of the large congregation left. The atmosphere was penitence and humility.

Reed ensured that the prayer-meetings were focused on the specific topics he wanted to stir up the people. Everything he organised had this in mind. 'I wished the fervour of prayer to be directed chiefly to the subjects most congenial with the design of our meeting. In seeking a revived state of religion, nothing needs more attention... Nothing is more difficult to get right than this. The remedy is not in prescribing a particular topic for each supplicant; it is in quickening him into a right state of feeling and getting him to pray as he feels.

After the evening meeting, which was full, the deacons came to Reed to say the people would not leave as they wanted a prayer-meeting. None had been planned as he did not want people to be tired out, but it was a sign that something was happening. 

Jan 2nd - at the evening service there was trembling and tears - the most solemn service yet.

Jan 3rd - service for the young. Afterwards, the vestry was full with those wanting prayer and encouragement. There were at least two hundred and many gave their lives to Jesus.

Jan 4th - evening service was overflowing. As good as any meeting so far.

Jan 5th - he asked his people to ratify their covenant with God. Reed was satisfied that a good work was in progress. Surprised at the number of young who had come voluntarily.

In the evening he spoke on 'repent' to the unsaved. Great solemnity as people stayed silent during the final hymn. Reed writes that there is nothing more thrilling than to see a congregation too overcome to sing. He asked that they spend an hour that eve ning to review the talk, confess their sins and submit to God.

Reed planned the week ahead's meetings in the light of what had happened that week.

Jan 6th - after the service the vestry was packed with people considering the state of their soul. Much weeping.

Jan 7th - He spent four hours speaking individually with those wanting to be saved.

Jan 8th - Reed discerned that his congregation was waking up, wanting to be more involved. Started prayer-meetings in different situations, spoke to the lost, spent more time with God etc. 

Jan 10th - he spoke to the teachers of the schools connected with the church and told them of the good things going on. He asked that he be informed of any child being under religious concern.

Jan 12th - many met Reed in the vestry to discuss the state of their souls.

Jan 18th - met with 36 children who were under religious concern.

Jan 20th - The evening talk was on making a decision for Christ. Reed hoped that all those who had been awakened would finally make a decision. Some trembled and some bowed their heads, overwhelmed with concern. People were silent during the final hymn and over 1,000 remained after the service for a prayer-meeting. 

Jan 21st - he spent five hours speaking to people about salvation.

Jan 31st - three more hours with those under concern.

In order to cope with the expanding workload, Reed delegated to the Deacons and reduced the number of services. He was always taking stock of the current situation and adapting services etc to suit. At each service people were attentive, the hearts were open and there were many tears; especially in the prayer-meetings. 

Each week he met with those under concern for about five hours. He spoke to the teachers regularly, met with the children, had meetings for the unsaved in a schoolroom filled with 3-400 people. Reed regularly kept in touch with the different leaders so that he knew exactly how things were progressing. 

This pattern went on until the end of March. Then 71 were proposed as new members of the church. Reed had met with each one several times. In those days (I believe rightly) they needed far more evidence of salvation than just making a declaration. Twenty more were close to acceptance. 

The good work went on through to June when overwork caused him to rest for ten days and then come back only half-time for a period. Some of his congregation blamed themselves for not taking on more of the work. People filled the gap through to August when Reed's health required him to have a complete rest. Just before leaving there was an overflowing vestry meeting for 200 young people who were under concern. Reed was devastated at the thought of leaving his congregation at such a time. 

By the end of November over two hundred had been admitted to the church and over 300 had spoken to Reed about their condition. He believed another 100 were saved although not admitted to the church. 










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