History of the St Helier Methodist Centre
In the 18th century, God’s Spirit raised up the Methodist movement to bring renewal within the Church of England. Eventually they separated and the Methodist movement became the Methodist Church, complete with its distinctive culture and buildings.
Since then, Methodism has continued to be outward looking, concerned for the poor and committed to evangelism.
The Centre is part of that history and our calling remains the same: to declare God’s love in an attractive and relevant way, and to work for justice and peace in God’s world.
Although Methodism was founded in England in 1738, it did not arrive in Jersey until some 36 years later.
Initially there was a lot of hostility towards Methodism, with meetings disrupted by stone throwing and damage to property.
Despite this, growth was steady between the years of 1790 and 1912 when forty-two Methodist churches were built in the island. This church, formally known as Grove Place Wesleyan Chapel, was built in 1847 with a seating capacity of 1,450. The total cost of construction was £8,000. It took thirty-four years to raise the money.
In 1902 the gallery was altered and the present mahogany rostrum, incorporating the original pulpit, was constructed. The ceiling was panelled and stained glass windows replaced the original plain glass. Electric lighting was not installed until 1932 at a cost of £86.
In 1956 the congregations of Wesley Street Chapel and Grove Place Chapel amalgamated on this site and the name changed to The Methodist Church, Wesley Grove.
In 1992 the congregations of the two remaining Methodist Churches in St Helier amalgamated at Aquila Road Methodist Church, renamed ‘St Helier Methodist Centre’, whilst this site was redeveloped to produce the building seen today.
The pews in the worship centre were removed to allow for the use of chairs. Buildings were demolished to create the east wing incorporating a new kitchen, vestibule, hall and office space on the ground floor, with meeting rooms and toilets on the first floor. The floor of the large basement hall was raised by one and a half metres and converted for use as a youth area and day nursery.
The old manse at the rear, renamed ‘The Ruby Ferguson House’, was converted into meeting rooms and two units of living accommodation. The front railings and gates were removed to create a more inviting entrance and reused at the rear of the west walkway. A lift was installed, together with ramps, to allow disabled access to the worship centre.
The congregation moved into the redeveloped premises, now called ‘St Helier Methodist Centre’, in August 2000. The complete project cost £2,000,000.
O Thou who camest from above
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart.
Charles Wesley (1707-88)