Methodist church looks back on rich heritage

A picture of the Ottery Road Methodist Church in Wynberg, in 1972. Pictures: Supplied

The Ottery Road Methodist Church in Wynberg will be celebrating two centuries of Methodism in Wynberg, from Sunday October 8 to Sunday October 15.

Thelma Achilles and Sean Hadskins, members of the church’s heritage committee, worked together on presenting the history of the church and the announcement of events taking place.

“We’ll have significant celebration functions in the week of October 9 including a memorial lecture dedicated to Ms Achilles’s late father, Reverend Thomas Achilles, who served as one of the pastors for 15 years,” said Mr Hadskins.

Mr Hadskins said the earliest identified minister of the church was Reverend Edward P Thomas who served from 1923 to 1933.

Mr Hadskins said the church had a membership going back six generations and its mission was to be responsive to the needs of the community as it fed the homeless and schoolchildren through a vegetable garden outreach programme.

Members of the church work through Kairos Prison Ministry to minister to those in prison.

Bishop Ivan Abrahams, who was educated at Ottery Road Methodist Primary School, served as the presiding bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (2003 to 2012) and was the fourth person and first South African to serve as general secretary of the World Methodist Council (2012).

“Bishop Yvette Moses, who served as resident minister at Ottery Road Methodist Church, is currently the bishop of the Cape of Good Hope district,” said Mr Hadskins.

A plaque unveiled by Reverend CK Storey in the church in 1957, dates the work of Methodism in Wynberg, to 1807.

“Sergeant John Kendrick and Reverend Barnabas Shaw were among the early leaders,” said Mr Hadskins.

The ground for the Ottery Road Methodist Church was purchased in 1829 and the first chapel was completed in Wynberg in 1830, 193 years ago.

“History reflected in various books shows separate services were held in Dutch for the local community and in English for the Europeans until 1851, when a new church built by the Maynard brothers was completed for Europeans, to replace the one destroyed in a fire.

“At this time, the Ottery Road Methodist Church was handed to the local community for their exclusive use, which continues until today,” said Mr Hadskins.

In 1902, the church attendance and Sunday school were thriving at Ottery Road Methodist, and a new church was built at a cost of £900. The foundation stone of the current church dates to 1903 making it 120 years old.

“Church services are conducted in English and Xhosa and provide for traditional and contemporary worship styles and music,” said Mr Hadskins.

The current minister, Reverend Sanele Ncobeni, joined in 2009.

“The Ottery Road Methodist Church forms part of the Wynberg Circuit that includes another church in Wynberg opposite Maynardville, one in Lansdowne, one in Claremont and one in Parkwood,” said Reverend Ncobeni.

Reverend Ncobeni said their church had an open-door policy for anyone in need.

“During this celebration, we not only celebrate the years of the ministry but also those people in the community who had and have made a meaningful contribution to the church,” he said.

The heritage celebrations include a choir festival on Sunday October 8, at 3pm; a memorial lecture for Reverend Thomas Achilles, on Wednesday October 11, at 6.30pm; a memorial lecture for Reverend Isaac Dearham, on Thursday October 12, at 6.30pm; a heritage banquet with Bishop Yvette Moses, on Saturday October 14, at 6pm; and a heritage service with presiding Bishop Purity Malinga, on Sunday October 15, at 10am.

For more information, contact Mr Hadskins on 082 582 1575.

A current picture of the Ottery Road Methodist Church.