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Wesley Methodist Church

Wesley Methodist Church view

What to Know About Wesley Methodist Church

The Wesley Methodist Church gets situated at 5 Fort Canning Road in Singapore’s Central Region’s Museum precinct. It was the first Methodist church in Singapore and was formerly known as the Methodist Episcopal Church before changing its name to Wesley Methodist Church in 1910. Scottish architect David McLeod Craik of the company Swan & Maclaren designed the main structure, finished in 1908, in the English Gothic style.

History

The first resident Methodist missionary, Reverend William Fitzjames Oldham (b. 1854-d. 1937), arrived in Singapore at the beginning of 1885, sparking the establishment of Methodism there. The Town Hall, which later became Victoria Theatre, and the Christian Institute, still standing today and at the intersection of Waterloo Street and Middle Road, respectively, hosted the first worship sessions until December 1885. The first chapel for this English Church, as it was then known, was dedicated on December 15, 1886, and was located at Coleman Street. Over time, the congregation expanded, and an early 1907, the Singaporean government permitted Rev. A.J. Amery to build a new church on a 3,530 square meter plot at Fort Canning.

On Christmas Day 1908, the Methodist Episcopal Church’s first worship service gets held there. Its Singapore founder, Reverend Oldham, consecrated it on February 4, 1909. (subsequently Bishop Oldham). In honor of Methodism’s founder John Wesley, the church was renamed Wesley Methodist Church on January 7, 1910.

The church was demolished and repurposed as an ammunition storage facility during the war years of 1941–1945. Only a severely damaged Hammond organ, the Lectern, the marble baptismal font, and the stained glass windows were still present. On Easter Day in 1948, the church gets rededicated.

Architecture

The structure is constructed of red brick and features white stone or stucco tracery and mullion detailing in a scaled-back Gothic Revival design. David McLeod Craik of Swan and Maclaren created the design. A wooden hammer-beam roof covered the nave and two transepts that made up the interior at first. The nave length doubled because of the church’s substantial remodeling and expansion in 1977 and 1988. Aisles get created by converting the existing windows into arched openings and extending the roof. 

A new building with a multipurpose hall and more rooms get built next to the transept additions, which added more rooms. This structure gets decorated in the same color scheme despite sharing only a few other design elements with the original church. The church’s seating capacity gets significantly increased, but the building’s original façades and a large portion of its exterior aspect get lost. The original façades get indicated by seemingly improbable gothic finials that protrude from the tiled roof. 

The rebuilt structure

The rebuilt structure is rather Utilitarian and lacks the nuances and grace of the old, both on the outside and interior, although using the same blend of brick and plaster as the previous building. For example, the earlier portion of the nave had carved wooden hammer-beam roofs; the newer part has a plain pitched ceiling, and the arrangement of the windows and other openings has nothing to do with the older building.

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