Hallowed treasures: sacred, secular and the Wesleyan Methodists in New Zealand, 1819-1840

C. Cordery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


John Wesley, the eighteenth century reformer, preached that regarding money, his Methodist followers should “gain all you can, save all you can and give all you can”. Methodist attitudes required user reflection and careful recording to ensure good use of money. This attitude towards the pecuniary challenges the sacred–secular dichotomy suggested by Laughlin (1988) and Booth (1993). The early Methodist missionaries in New Zealand provide an example where acculturation demands tempted men with a strong sacred focus to eschew secular accounting for their mission. Steeped in Wesley’s writings, Methodist culture and the Bible, however, their letters and diaries included regular stocktakes of barter goods and ledger accounts, suggesting economic accountability. When one missionary misappropriated mission money for personal ends, he was ostracised. Wesleyan Methodist missionaries’ dependence on their supporters required commitment to mission and stewardship of the mission’s ‘hallowed treasures’, but not a sacred–secular bifurcation which denigrated accounting tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-220
Number of pages222
JournalAccounting History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2006


Dive into the research topics of 'Hallowed treasures: sacred, secular and the Wesleyan Methodists in New Zealand, 1819-1840'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this