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Thomas Myerscough was a Lancashire Estate Agent in based in Preston, England. Saved in 1874 Thomas was the leader of a group of Bible students described by Donald gee as a ‘small company of devoted followers of the Lord Jesus, who were meeting to study the deeper things of God.’ They were members of several local churches, and took the name of the “Preston Evangelistic Association”. They used to gather almost every evening for Bible study, and then go out to preach. Among them were William F. P. Burton, James Salter and Edmund Hodgson.

A Methodist Class Leader in nearby Lytham had received the Pentecostal experience in Sunderland, and was holding remarkable meetings in his own house. A deputation of four went over from the Preston group to investigate and they each believed this move was of God. For nine months they searched the scriptures and became convinced that only unbelief had robbed the Church of the gifts of the Spirit. In 1909, at the Sunderland Whitsuntide Convention, Thomas was baptised in the Holy Spirit.

The growing Pentecostal Missionary Union was placed in his care at Preston. Many outstanding Pentecostal leaders who passed through this training base were George Jeffreys (1889-1962), R.E. Darragh (1886-1959) and E. J. Phillips (1893-1973), all subsequently Elim ministers, and W. J. Boyd of China. In addition the pioneers of the Congo Evangelistic Mission also trained here – W.F.P. Burton (1886-1971) and James Salter (1890-1972)). In time inevitable clashes of doctrine occurred with the Anglican leaders of the P.M.U., and so, in 1918 Cecil Polhill opened an official Men’s Training Home in London. But the senior students completed their training In Preston under Mr. Myerscough. Burton and Salter went out independently of the P.M.U. to the Congo, and Mr. Myerscough promised to stand behind these great pioneers from the homeland. He was the first secretary-treasurer of the Congo Evangelistic Mission until his death in March 1932.

During the 1920s there was a growing sense of the need of closer co-operation among the many small Pentecostal Assemblies in Britain. Initial efforts to draw them together proved abortive. All were afraid of sacrificing their complete independence, and after the eclipse of Boddy and Polhill, following the first World War, there seemed nobody of sufficient stature to take the lead. The only personality who commanded general confidence was Thomas Myerscough, and he felt too old to adopt the strenuous role of a national leader. But the need was urgent, and finally he promised to lend his full personal support to J. Nelson Parr, an energetic business-man of Manchester, if he would take the brunt of the work. As a result there was formed in 1924 the Official Fellowship of Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland.

Thomas Myerscough had outstanding qualities as a competent and painstaking Bible student and teacher. He is an illustrious example of a mentor of the next generation, multiplying his ministry through a deep and wide influence on younger men who carried on the proclamation of the Gospel. He will also be remembered as the pastor of the substantial Preston Assembly and a great promoter of missionary work.

Bibliography: Donald Gee, ‘These Men I Knew‘ 1965; D.W. Carwright art. ‘International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements’ 2002.

Tony Cauchi