The extent to which the employment of the local preacher is characteristic of Methodism may be seen from the fact that in the United Kingdom while there are only about 5000 Methodist ministers, there are more than 18,000 congregations; some 13,000 congregations, chiefly in the villages, are dependent on local preachers.
It seems probable that his parents were among the early converts of Wesley; at any rate, Francis became converted to Methodism in his thirteenth year, and at sixteen became a local preacher.
About this time, too (1809), Bourne appointed James Crawfoot, a Wesleyan local preacher who had been removed from the list for assisting the Independent Methodists, as a travelling preacher at 10s.
At the age of fifteen his mind took a strongly religious turn, under the influence of the Wesleyan Methodists, in which body he became a local preacher.
He studied law, and in 1817 came under the influence of a religious revival in Vermont, where at Lyndon in the following year he was licensed as a local preacher and was admitted to the New England conference.