The Bethel ships were intended as floating chapels for seamen and also immigrants. They were evangelical, teetotal, sabbatarian, and predominantly Swedish Lutheran turned Methodists. The period was 1840s to 1860s at least, and followed a Swedish movement called theläsare, a reading fellowship of like-minded Christians. Both of the NY ships were named John Wesley, and the movement here was led by Olof Hedstrom. There is little here about the use of Bethel ships elsewhere, even at sea, but it is an interesting introduction to the phenomenon.
p. 33, Hedstrom sermon used the text, “Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved.” Interesting text for various expeditions.
p. 40ff, onläsare, Swedish groups who met in private homes for Bible reading, prayer, and conversation on spiritual matters. They were influenced by German Moravianism and English Wesleyan Methodism, as transmuted into Swedish pietism.
p. 41: Bible study required reading skills, and so the movement formed educational institutions of all sorts.
p. 79, description of the second John Wesley: Between the entries is the Pastor’s study, on either side are lockers or cases for books and for the Sunday School library.
p. 8: [The Sunday School] curriculum included alphabet primers, spelling books, and most importantly, pious tracts, stories, Bibles, and Hymns for children. The teaching materials were inexpensively published by the Methodists’ own Sunday School Union and tract societies, as well as the American Sunday School Union.