Methodism has always acknowledged and valued the ministry of women, a Wesleyan influence going back to Susanna Wesley herself.
In early British Methodism, a number of women served as Local Preachers (the heroine of George Eliot's Adam Bede is represented as one).
Since no clergymen were available, Maxfield took it upon himself to preach to the congregation.
Wesley was annoyed by this and returned to London in order to confront Maxfield.
Supreme Court justices said that Haley Preston – who was a minister in Redruth, Cornwall – was working under a covenant, not a written contract and could not bring an unfair dismissal claim.One such preaching house was The Foundery, which served as Wesley's HQ in London.In about 1740, Wesley was away on business and had left a young man, Thomas Maxfield, in charge of The Foundery.But Supreme Court justices ruled in favour of Methodist Church leaders by a four-one majority after a hearing in London.Lord Sumption said in a written ruling that the Methodist ministry “is a vocation, by which candidates submit themselves to the discipline of the church for life.From 1918 on, Wesleyan Methodism recruited and deployed women Local Preachers on exactly the same basis as men.When Methodist reunion in England took place in 1933, the ordination of women in the separated denominations ceased until 1971, but the equal status of women as local preachers continued.With separation from the Church of England by the end of the 18th century, a clear distinction was recognised between ordained Methodist ministers (presbyters) and the local preachers who assisted them.Local preachers continue to serve an indispensable role in the Methodist Church of Great Britain, in which the majority of church services are led by lay people.However, his mother, Susanna Wesley, persuaded him to hear Maxfield out, suggesting that he had as much right to preach as Wesley.Wesley was sufficiently impressed by Maxfield's preaching to see it as God's work and let the matter drop, with Maxfield becoming one of Methodism's earliest lay preachers.