Canterbury's ties to Methodism goes back to 1850 when and the "Cressy" sailed into Lyttelton Harbour and on board were Wesleyan members and their families.
In 1865 the Rhodes family of Timaru, donated a central Bank Street site for the Wesleyan church to be situated on. The same year plans were drawn up and contractors engaged. A small wooden church measuring 74 square metres complete with belfry and a porch was built and first minister arrived. This provided a spiritual home for the burgeoning congregation to gather in. A two storied villa on Butler St was built at the same time for the married preacher.
Within 10 years the original building became too small and in 1874-1875 a new, more substantial church was erected out of dark grey stone. This church, designed by F. Wilson and built by S. Harding was to seat 400 people and was opened on March 21st 1875. It is the first and oldest remaining Methodist church in South Canterbury.
At the time of construction the original wooden church was shifted to the rear of the site for use as a schoolroom. With a further view to possible expansion the rear wall of the new build was constructed out of wood and the church was indeed lengthened in 1890 with a wooden addition to fit the choir and vestries as well as 140 more seats.
In 1913 the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists united which saw the congregation grow again. An organ was built for the church in the same year and in 1930 the stone tower and 24m steeple were added. The steeple is perhaps not as glamourous as some of the other spires that we see about our town but the green of the copper makes quite a statement.
There have been many changes and alterations to this church over the years. Services ended here in 1991 and to see it quietly sitting there, locked up and silent, does not relay at all the busy life it has led over the 140 plus years it has been on its Bank Street site.
It looks to be in good condition and has a Historic Places Category 2 listing.
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