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11 May 1837 The Methodist Church

 11 May 1837   The Methodist Church

The Methodist Church in South Australia came into being on 11 May 1837 when a number of people, led by J.C. White, organised themselves into a church group, enrolled fifteen members and appointed officers. 

The first Methodist service on the mainland was held in a tent at Holdfast Bay a week after the Coromandel, carrying ten Methodists, arrived in January 1837. By July the group had leased some land in Hindley Street and had appealed for funds to build a church. The foundation stone was laid in September and the first service was held in the unfinished building, with a tarpaulin for a roof, in December.

The formal opening of the church took place on 18 March 1838. The first appointed minister from the Wesleyan Missionary Board, Mr Longbotton, arrived in the colony in rather dramatic fashion. Having served in India he was later sent to the Swan River settlement for a time, but then returned to India. On his appointment to South Australia he set out for the colony via Mauritius and Hobart. The small ship Fanny bringing him, his wife and child to Adelaide was hit by a violent storm off Kangaroo Island and finally foundered on the Coorong. It was nearly eight weeks before they reached Adelaide after spending some 45 days in the bush on the way to Encounter Bay.

The church spread with the expansion of the colony, and in 1854 the responsibility for the church changed from the Board of Missions in London to an Australasian Conference, of which South Australia was a district. By then there were 38 churches and 30 other preaching places in the colony, with ten ministers for the 9380 members.

Cyclopedia of South Australia, Volume II, Hussey & Gillingham,
 Adelaide, 1909, pp. 47-48.

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