Methodism is a denomination founded by John Wesley in England, and which grew out of the Church of England. It is particularly popular in Wales, the Isle of Man, English West Country and some other areas of the world.
It has done fairly well in Shetland in the face of stiff competition from other churches. This can be seen in the wide geographical spread of its chapels.
Shetland Methodism seems to have originated in 1819, when John Nicolson returned from the Napoleonic Wars. He had been converted in the army. Within two years, he had founded a "circuit".<ref name=MCIS>Methodist Church in Shetland</ref> Nicolson requested help, and:
- "As the result of Dr Adam Clarke's influence, who had oversight of the Shetlands Mission, this came in the form of John Raby and of Samuel Dunn, son of a Mevagissey [Cornwall] sea-captain and erstwhile smuggler, who arrived in 1822. When he left in 1825 there were more than 600 members and, in spite of opposition from the Kirk, by the time of John Nicolson's death in 1828 there were four circuits and 1,000 members."<ref name=MCIS/>
Shetland Methodism has suffered heavily from emigration. For example in 1932 there were 1,398 members, but by 1995 this had fallen to 379.<ref name=MCIS/> Of course, some incomers have been practicing Methodists, but this has not stemmed the tide. Methodism, like most other churches has seen a decline in attendance generally in recent years.
- Methodist Church in Shetland
- Methodism in Scotland (some Shetland information)
- A Young Man's Vision - 200 Years of Shetland Methodism