My friend D.B. has been trying to get me to join his Methodist Chapel for years. It is his long term project.
That being the case he sent me an article he had seen in 'The Times' newspaper entitled :
Methodists 'live more than seven years longer than rest of population'.
It made the following points :
* Men belonging to the famously clean-living denomination live to the ripe old age of 83.9, compared with a national average of 77.
* For women the difference in longevity was even greater with female Methodists dying at 91.1 on average – nine years longer than the 82 years enjoyed by most British women.
* Last week Stanley Lucas died in Cornwall aged 110, having become not just the oldest male member of the Methodist Church but the oldest man in Europe.
* Dr Richard Vautrey, Vice President of the Methodist Conference, said, “I’m sure there are many different factors at work for Methodists to attain these numbers.
But I would guess that our emphasis on caring for our spiritual as well as physical health, avoiding excess, engaging with people in our communities and being good neighbours all help.”
* Methodism, an evangelical Christian movement that split from the Church of England at the end of the 18th century, is known for its focus on social justice and for many years was at the forefront of the temperance movement that preached 'total abstinence' from alcohol.
* The increased life expectancy of its followers, who now number 265,000 in Britain, was calculated by researchers working for 'British Religion in Numbers', based at the University of Manchester.
* They studied family announcements placed in the newspaper, 'The Methodist Recorder', which found that the mean age of death for Methodist men and women in 1973and 2008 was far higher than that of the general population as recorded by the Office for National Statistics.
* Study of obituaries for Methodist ministers appeared to confirm the trend, with a mean age of death of 83.4 for men who died in 2009 – again more than six years older than the British average of 77.
* The Methodist Conference, begins each year with a rendition of a hymn called 'And are we yet alive?', written by one of the movement’s founders, Charles Wesley.
At the age of 63, its a bit to late for me now to benefit in terms of longevity. Forty years ago it might have been different- but I didn't know D.B. then.
Here's the history of the church which I find quite fascinating :