Methodism in Gibraltar began in 1769 with a group of Soldiers the best known of whom was Sgt. Henry Ince, who was himself a Methodist lay preacher. Sgt Ince became famous in Gibraltar through his work in the Upper Galleries or ‘Great Siege Tunnels‘ as they are known today. It was his home that provided the first meeting place for Methodists.
The first Methodist Church was built in 1809 in Prince Edward’s Road and later a school and Manse were added.
In the early 1800s the church started contact with the recently formed British and Foreign Bible Society, today known as the Bible Society, and began distributing English Bibles to the Garrison and visiting seamen, as well as distributing Spanish Bibles into Spain.
In the first quarter of the 19th century, under its Minster Dr William Harris Rule, began the first ‘free’ school for the Gibraltar community, which eventually led to free education for all. Dr Rule was also involved in setting up a school and society in Cadiz, unfortunately neither of these survived but the seeds were sown for further work in Spain.
During the second half of the 19th century the then Mister George Alton became the secretary of the new ‘Sanitary Commissioners’, which began to deal withe sanitation issues in Gibraltar which had, over the years, given rise to many epidemics of cholera and yellow fever.
Always linked with work among service personnel, that work became focussed in the establishment of a recreation club in part of the school, and in 1898 a ‘Welcome’ home for soldiers and sailors was opened at No.6 Church Street, the site of the old Eastern Telegraph offices. The ‘Welcome’ moved to the present site at 297 Main Street in 1933 and was renamed ‘Wesley House’, the name that still stands today. Through the Church and its ministry of worship and service thousands of people of all faiths and none were welcomed and cared for over these years of increasing outreach and growth.
The Church moved to its present location in 1956 when the old Church and Manse were sold. The building was reconstructed into its present shape, and from here the Church has become the spiritual home not only of Methodists but of Christians from many backgrounds who live and work in and around Gibraltar. It has also offered a warm welcome to many visitors who have shared in its worship and enjoyed the warmth of The Carpenter’s Arms.
In 1997 the Church in Gibraltar became part of the then London South West District of the Methodist Church in the United Kingdom and ceased to come under the orbit of the Forces Board. This move recognized that, while the link with the forces remained, the work of the Church was now very much focussed towards the whole community of Gibraltar and its surrounding area. This work has continued and grown to the present day and, we trust, will continue to do so. No longer the Methodist Church in Gibraltar, but the Gibraltar Methodist Church.