Wesley Methodist Church



Wesley Methodist Church is located at 5 Fort Canning Road, in the Museum precinct of the Central Region in Singapore.1 Originally called the Methodist Episcopal Church, it was renamed Wesley Methodist Church in 1910.2 The main building was completed in 1908 and designed in the English Gothic style by Scottish architect David McLeod Craik from architectural firm Swan & Maclaren.3

History
Methodism in Singapore began in early 1885, after the arrival of Reverend William Fitzjames Oldham (b. 1854–d. 1937), who became the first resident Methodist missionary.4 The first worship services were held at the Town Hall (which later became Victoria Theatre) and the Christian Institute (located at the corner of Waterloo Street and Middle Road and still standing today) until December 1885.5 This English Church, as it was called then, had its first chapel at Coleman Street, and was dedicated on 15 December 1886.6 The congregation grew over the years and in 1907, the Singapore government granted a 3,530-sq m site at Fort Canning for a new church.7


The first worship service at this new Methodist Episcopal Church was held on Christmas Day 1908. On 4 February 1909, it was dedicated by its Singapore founder, Reverend Oldham (subsequently Bishop Oldham).8 On 7 January 1910, the church was renamed Wesley Methodist Church after John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.9

Description
Wesley Methodist Church is an English-style Gothic building with exposed brickwork, designed by architect David McLeod Craik.10

Timeline
7 Feb 1885: Bishop James Thoburn (Dr) and Reverend William Oldham arrive from India and form the Methodist Church in Malaya.11 Regular services are held at the Town Hall and the Christian Institute at Middle Road.12
22 Feb 1885: Oldham is appointed pastor and becomes the first resident Methodist missionary.13 Methodist Episcopal Church Dedication of first Methodist Episcopal Church at Coleman Street.14
1902: Renovations completed at Coleman Street Church, with new Welsbach gas burners replacing old kerosene lamps.
1907: The government grants the Methodists a 3,530-sq m site at Fort Canning to build a new church “for the English-speaking Methodist congregation”.15
25 Dec 1908: The first worship service is held at the new church building.
4 Feb 1909: Dedication of the new church by its founder,  Bishop William Oldham.16
7 Jan 1910: Change of name from “the English Church” to Wesley Church.17
1912: Electric fans and lights installed.18
1928: Church hall is built.
1935: Church’s 15th-anniversary celebration, which is attended by Bishop Oldham.19
1937: A new Hammond electric organ, the first of its kind in Malaya, is dedicated and used.20
8 Feb 1942: Last pre-war service held at Fort Canning with Reverend Tyler Thomson. The church premises are taken over by Australian forces and used as an ammunition depot during World War II. Reverend H. B. Amstutz (Dr) is interned for three years.
12 Sep 1945: World War II ends and congregation at Wesley is reformed.
16 May 1948: Church buildings are re-dedicated after refurbishment.
1956: Wesley Church has its first Asian assistant pastor, Yap Kim Hao.
8 Dec 1957: Cornerstone for the educational wing is laid and its use begins in 1959.
26 Apr 1959: Dedication of the new church hall and educational block in the church grounds.21
1968:
The first Asian Methodist Bishop, Reverend Yap Kim Hao, is consecrated at Wesley Church.

1970: Reverend Kenneth Chellapah, who is appointed Pastor of Wesley, marks the end of 84 years of foreign missionary pastoral leadership.
1977: Church renovations begin and worship activities continue at Methodist Girls’ School.
1979: The renovated sanctuary and a new six-storey building are completed.22
1989: Church extension is completed and dedicated by Bishop Ho Chee Sin, Bishop Emeritus T. R. Doraisamy and Bishop Emeritus Kao Jih Chung.23
1990:
Administrative block is renovated.

1991: The 8th World Federation Assembly of Methodist Women is held at the church.24



Author

Vernon Cornelius-Takahama



References
1. Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/contact-us/frontpage/contact-us; Roots. (2016). Museums in Singapore. Retrieved 2017, April 18 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/learn/stories/museums-in-singapore/story
2. Samuel, D. S. (1991). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Elixir Consultancy Service, p. 153. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS])
3. Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 8. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR); Beamish, J., & Ferguson, J. (1985). A history of Singapore architecture: The making of a city. Singapore: G. Brash, pp. 92, 95. (Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 BEA)
4. Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, pp. 5, 8. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR); Sng, B. E. K. (1993). In His good time: The story of the church in Singapore, 1819–2002. Singapore: Bible Society of Singapore: Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, p. 108. (Call no.: RSING 280.4095957 SNG)
5. Sng, B. E. K. (1993). In His good time: The story of the church in Singapore, 1819–2002. Singapore: Bible Society of Singapore: Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, pp. 84, 106, 109. (Call no.: RSING 280.4095957 SNG)
6. Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 9. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)
7. Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of grace. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace
8. Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 53. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)
9. Doraisamy, T. R. (1982). The march of Methodism in Singapore and Malaysia, 1885–1980. Singapore: Methodist Book Room, p. 14. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR); Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 1. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)
10. Beamish, J., & Ferguson, J. (1985). A history of Singapore architecture: The making of a city. Singapore: G. Brash, pp. 92, 95. (Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 BEA)
11. Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)
12. Sng, B. E. K. (1993). In His good time: The story of the church in Singapore, 1819–2002. Singapore: Bible Society of Singapore: Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, pp. 105–106. (Call no.: RSING 280.4095957 SNG)
13. Sng, B. E. K. (1993). In His good time: The story of the church in Singapore, 1819–2002. Singapore: Bible Society of Singapore: Graduates’ Christian Fellowship, p. 109. (Call no.: RSING 280.4095957 SNG)
14. Samuel, D. S. (1991). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Elixir Consultancy Service, p. 153. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS])
15. Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of grace. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace#early-years
16. Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 53. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)
17. Doraisamy, T. R. (1982). The march of Methodism in Singapore and Malaysia, 1885–1980. Singapore: Methodist Book Room, p. 14. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)
18. Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of grace. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace#early-years
19. Doraisamy, T. R. (Ed.). (1985). Forever beginning: One hundred years of Methodism in Singapore. Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, p. 134. (Call no.: RSING 287.095957 DOR)
20. Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of grace. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace#early-years
1. Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of grace. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace#1940-1950s
22. Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of grace. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace#1960-1970s
23. Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of grace. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace#1980s
24. Wesley Methodist Church. (2016). Milestones of grace. Retrieved 2016, December 15 from Wesley Methodist Church website: http://www.wesleymc.org/wesley/milestones-of-grace/uncategorised/milestones-of-grace#1990s



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




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.

 

Subject
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Religious Buildings
Religious buildings
Arts>>Architecture>>Religious buildings
Methodist church buildings--Singapore
Historic buildings--Singapore
Church architecture--Singapore