Wesley Methodist Church

Wesley Methodist Church is located at 5, Fort Canning Road, in the Museum precinct of the Central Region in Singapore. Originally called the Methodist Episcopal Church, it was renamed Wesley Methodist Church in 1910. The main building was completed in 1908 and was designed in English Gothic style by Scottish architect David McLeod Craik of Swan & Maclaren.

Methodism in Singapore began in early 1885, after the arrival of the Reverend William Fitzjames Oldham (b.1854 - d.1937) who became the first resident Methodist missionary. The first worship services were held at the Town Hall (today's Victoria Memorial Hall) and the Christian Institute (located at the corner of Waterloo Street and Middle Road, the building still stands today) until December 1885. This English Church, as it was then called, had its first chapel at Coleman Street, which was dedicated on 15 December 1886. The congregation expanded over the years, and in 1907, Singapore Government granted a 3,530 sq m site at Fort Canning for a new church. The first worship service at this new Methodist Episcopal Church was held on Christmas Day 1908, and on 4 February 1909, it was dedicated by its Singapore founder, the Reverend Oldham, now Bishop William F. Oldham. On 7 January 1910, the church was renamed Wesley Methodist Church after John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.

It is an English style Gothic building with exposed brickwork, designed by architect David McLeod Craik. In 1910, the church was renamed Wesley Methodist Church.

7 Feb 1885 : Bishop James Thoburn (Dr), William Oldham and party arrived from India, and formed the Methodist Church in Malaya. Regular services held at the Town Hall (today's Victoria Memorial Hall) and the Christian Institute at Middle Road.
22 Feb 1885 : The Reverend Oldham was appointed Pastor and became the first resident Methodist missionary. Methodist Episcopal Church Dedication of first Methodist Episcopal Church at Coleman Street.
1902 : Renovations completed at Coleman Street Church, with new Welsbach gas burners replacing old kerosene lamps.
1907 : The Singapore Government granted the Methodists a 3,530 sq m site at Fort Canning to build a new Church "for the English-speaking Methodist congregation".
25 Dec 1908 : The first worship service was held at the new church building.
4 Feb 1909 : Dedication of the new church by its founder, who had, by then become Bishop William Oldham.
7 Jan 1910 : Change of name from 'the English Church' to Wesley Church.
1912 : Electric fans and lights installed.
1928 : Church hall was built.
1935 : Church's 15 anniversary celebration attended by founder, Bishop Oldham.
1937 : Renovations to the church and hall, installation of new lights, pulpit, floor tiles and the addition of a Hammond electric organ, the first of its kind in Malaya.
8 Feb 1942 : Last pre-war service held at Fort Canning with the Reverend Tyler Thomson. The church premises were taken over by Australian forces and used as an ammunition depot during the World War II. Pastor, Amstutz (Dr) was interned for three years.
12 Sep 1945 : World War II ends, congregation at Wesley reformed.
16 May 1948 : Church buildings rededicated after refurbishing.
1956 : Wesley Church has its first Asian assistant pastor, Yap Kim Hao.
8 Dec 1957 : Cornerstone for the educational wing was laid, and its use began in 1959.
26 Apr 1959 : Dedication of the new church hall and the educational block in the church grounds.
1968 : The first Asian Methodist Bishop, the Reverend Yap Kim Hao was consecrated at Wesley Church.
1970 : The Reverend Kenneth Chellapah who was appointed Pastor of Wesley, ended 84 years of foreign missionary pastoral leadership.
1977 : Church renovations began, and worship activities were continued at the Methodist Girls' School.
1979 : The renovated sanctuary and a new six-storey building was completed.
1989 : Church extension were completed and dedicated by Bishop Ho Chee Sin, Bishop Emeritus T. R. Doraisamy and Bishop Emeritus Kao Jih Chung.
1990 : Church administrative block was renovated.
1991 : The 8th World Federation Assembly of Methodist Women held at Wesley church.

Wesley Methodist Church, 5, Fort Canning Road, Singapore 179493.
Completed: 1908. 
Architect: David McLeod Craik.

Vernon Cornelius-Takahama

Beamish, J., & Ferguson, J. (1985). A history of Singapore architecture: The making of a city (pp. 92, 95). Singapore: G. Brash.
(Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 BEA)

Doraisamy, T. R. (1982). The march of Methodism in Singapore and Malaysia, 1885-1980 (pp. 1-3, 6-8, 12, 14). Singapore: Methodist Book Room.
(Call no.: SING 287.095957 DOR)

Doraisamy, T. R. (1986). Forever beginning I & II: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore (pp. 4-5, 7-10, 18, 53). Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)

Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (p. 30). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: SING 915.957 EDW)

Sng, B. E. K. (1993). In his good time: The story of the church in Singapore, 1819-1992 (pp. 110-114, 183). Singapore: Graduates' Christian Fellowship.
(Call no.: RSING 275.957 SNG)

Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now (p. 51). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)

Further resources
Architect’s 36 years in Malaya. (1938, August 3). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 5.  Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Samuel, D. S. (1991). Singapore's heritage: Through places of historical interest (p. 153). Singapore: Elixir Consultancy Service.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM)

Wesley Methodist Church (2003). Milestones of grace. Retrieved January 13, 2003, from  www.wesleymc.org/church/church_milestones_of_grace.htm

The information in this article is valid as at 2000 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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