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Short History of Barkingside Methodist Church

1847 - Records show the old church in the High Street was there in 1847 and no one knows how old it was. Linked to the Wesleyan Methodist Church, probably part of the London (Spitalfields) Circuit, under the care of a minister stationed at Romford.

1849 - Divisions of the Methodist Church took place when there were bitter disputes among ministers and some were expelled. Approximately 100,000 members (more than 1/3 of the church membership) left or were expelled. The Ilford Wesleyan Society was greatly weakened, many of the members joining an existing society of the United Methodist Free Churches which was the predecessor of the Ilford Lane Church. At Barkingside the members seem to have gone over to the UMFC as a body taking this property with them.

1850 - Barkingside Joined UMFC Forest Gate circuit

1877 - Added a new hall to the premises in the High Street, close to The Chequers public house. It was from this hall that the 1877 foundation stone came and was placed in our present buildings.

1907 -    The Forest Gate Circuit went from strength to strength; at one time it extended from Forest Gate to Southend. As the population of Barkingside increased so also did the strength and influence of the Methodist Church. The Church of England (Holy Trinity) had probably been present in Barkingside even before Methodists but there was no other Free Church in the area until quite recent times.

1932 -  Union of the Wesleyan, United Methodist and Primitive churches into the one Methodist Church we have today

1936 - Rev. Carus L Trevenna appointed as first resident minister at Barkingside. The Methodist Church was outgrowing its premises. With the development of the High Street as a shopping centre there was an obvious possibility of selling the site at a price that would help towards the provision of a new church. A site was secured in Fremantle Road and in 1937 on this site was opened a hall that could also serve as a chapel with a smaller hall and other rooms. The corner of the site was left vacant in the hope that a church to be used solely for worship could be built on it later.

1937 -  Upton Park Circuit was split up and Newbury Park (Oaks Lane) church which formed part of it was transferred to the Forest Gate circuit.

1940 - Barkingside church shared in the war time experiences of the area with difficulties, shortages, air raids and members and friends away in the forces and elsewhere, but happily it suffered no direct bomb damage. The Newbury Park minister Rev. E Maynard Wilson had pastoral charge of Barkingside.

1945 - After the war and reorganisation of the circuit, the church was able to develop steadily for some years under the leadership of Pastor Wittey and Rev. G Herbert Davies. In 1946 the Ilford Circuit (which extended as far as Brentwood and Billericay) was linked with the churches of the Forest Gate circuit in the same area to form a new Ilford Circuit. It soon became clear that this circuit of 20 churches was too large for administration and in the next year it was divided into Ilford and Romford circuits each of 10 churches. Barkingside naturally came into the Ilford circuit.

1959 - The next milestone was the building of the new church on the space that had been left ready in faith 20 years before. Congregational giving was reinforced for this purpose by ‘portable compensation’ under the war damage scheme. The new church was opened in 1959 during the ministry of Rev Edward Holme.

1960s- The opening of the new church brought new life into the Methodist community at Barkingside. The worshipping congregation and choir were inspired by their new premises and the organisations meeting in the premises flourished. A new Methodist society was planted in Grange Hill on the GLC built Hainault estate in the 50’s with Eddie taking on responsibility for that as well as Barkingside – to enable him to do so Barkingside bought him a moped! The 1960’s was a time of consolidation- with Revs Norman Greenhalgh and Arnold Standing each bringing their own strengths in and out of the pulpit.

1970s- Redbridge Voluntary Care formed by the then minister Rev. Peter Hudson pulling together volunteers from many denominations in Redbridge. A very active youth group (Friends) was formed and enjoyed and some of the members are still meeting regularly as a group 30+ years later! Some are still part of the Barkingside church family whilst others are active members in church life around the London area. The church enjoyed a period of growth and vitality. This was continued during the ministry of Rev. Michael Bowman, a very ‘hands on’ practical man who enjoyed sharing the Christian message by being with and talking to both children and adults

Late 20C There followed another period of consolidation with Revs. George  Thompson Blake, a former journalist and regular contributor to the local paper, Paul Guest and John Miller bringing their strengths of spiritual worship and pastoral care to the membership

2000 - Another active Youth group, organised by our the

n minister Rev. Keith Underhill and his wife, at the turn of the 21st century, encouraged many young people to take up membership of the church and two of them are now full time Christian Workers. Some of the adult members enjoyed the Disciple Bible study courses he led.  The church premises teemed with life both from church organisations and outside bookings.

21 C - As time moved on the church society has grown older, smaller and more ethically diverse. The demographics of the area changed too - as was common for much of the London area. Sunday schools have diminished accordingly, from every room having children enjoying hymn singing, stories and activities in the 1950’s to all primary age children meeting in one room, with an older group meeting in another room, in 2011.

Children and Young People continue to enjoy being part of the  thriving uniformed organisations with weekly meetings on our premises. Some 30+ Primary school children are attracted to the Sunday afternoon workshops held 3x a year and upward of 100 children register (approx 70 attend each day) for the Holiday Club held in the first week of the summer school holiday - run by a loyal band of church volunteers. What an exciting time the children have learning about the Bible and Christianity through a variety of activities. The week culminates in a Sunday Morning service where parents, congregation and children worship together experiencing some of the activities and songs of the week.

During the last 30 or so years there has been discussion with the Anglican and Methodist Churches re union. Ecumenical relationships are now very good through  NIFOC, Good Friday walk of witness is important, followed by  activities for the children. Other ecumenical services and Lent lunches at each church also happen through NIFOC. Fun in the Park in the summer is great too.

At the opening of the 21st century Rev Michael Moon introduced various styles of worship, supported by the new computer/screen.

2011-  Revd. Jan Atkins became the minister.

Currently, we have a new social activity club on the Thursday afternoon, Bible study on first and third Tuesdays, with coffee, tea and friendly chat.

2017 - Jan retired and Rev. Ermal Kirby became minister in September 2017