Inverness Methodist Church this year celebrates the 250th anniversary of the first visit of its founder, the famous evangelist John Wesley, to the town for the first time, when he met an already thriving Methodist Society, founded locally only three years before.
The congregation will also be celebrating the golden anniversary of its present Huntly Street building, to which the congregation moved in 1964, following the disastrous fire which had destroyed its former Union Street premises in 1961.
According to records, it was raining heavily on 10th June, 1764, when Wesley was invited to preach to a packed congregation in the Old High Kirk, then as now, the oldest Christian place of worship in Inverness.
Since then the Methodist Church, now sited just across the River Ness from the Old High, has played a significant part in the life of the city, not least in its ecumenical approach to the Christian message, maintaining excellent relations throughout its history with most other local denominations. The Wesley window in the riverside church depicts Wesley riding into town in 1764.
This important anniversary is being marked by a number of events including a visit by the President of the Methodist Conference. Rev Ruth Gee will be welcomed by the Provost and City councillors at a civic dinner on 3rd June and will follow in Wesley’s footsteps when she, too, will preach in the Old High Kirk at an ecumenical service at 7pm on Wednesday 4th June.
Celebrations begin on Sunday 27th April, when Bishop Mark Strange, Episcopal Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, will preach at the 11am morning service, followed by an Easter Songs of Praise event at 6pm.
Other visiting preachers include Rev Dr Phil Meadows in late May, and Rev David Leese, who will present An Evening of Gospel Magic at the end of June. A highlight of the celebrations will be a weekend festival on 14th and 15th June which includes a flower festival, arts and crafts exhibition and sale, recitals by organists from a number of churches in and around Inverness and an opportunity to look at the church’s archives.
Over the years Inverness Methodist Church has welcomed visitors from all corners of the globe. This year it especially welcomes Inverness and district visitors to any and all of its special events.
Yorkshire man, the Rev Nigel Rodgers, came to Inverness Methodist Church last September. With his wife, Kim and their two Gordon setters, he served for 10 years on the Isle of Wight until his call to the Highland Capital.
Note: John Wesley (1703-1791), was born in Epworth Lincolnshire, the son of an Anglican rector, and one of 19 children, only nine of whom survived. He and his brother Charles are credited with founding the Methodist movement, although he remained within the Established Church throughout his life, insisting that it was consistent with Methodist principles.
Throughout their lives, John and Charles Wesley, both graduates of Oxford University, travelled widely, to set up Christian societies throughout Britain, Ireland and North America, often encouraging unordained itinerant preachers to spread the Gospel. The Methodist movement, sometimes to the dismay of more conservative Christians, was prominent in supporting contemporary social issues such as abolition of slavery and prison reform.
The movement has from earliest days emphasised the need to help the poor and disadvantaged in practical ways, by the establishment of orphanages, hospitals, schools and soup kitchens. It has also encouraged the use of joyful music in its services. Many of the best known hymns sung throughout the world today owe their origins to the Wesleys and the Methodists.
The Methodist name is even reputed to have originated as a disparaging or grudgingly respectful reference by its early opponents to the Wesley brothers’ systematic, methodical approach to spreading the gospel through good works and happy music.