200 Years of the Methodist Church in Denton
Open Air Celebration
On Sunday last, in bright sunshine outside the present Denton Methodist Church, a congregation including Denton MP Andrew Gwynne and his wife, Alison, members of the Boys Brigade and Girl Guiding, young and old, new friends and those returning from further afield, met for a service of thanksgiving for 200 years of Methodist witness in Denton.
Led by the Rev. Jocelyn Bennett, the occasion began with a visitor on horseback, Reverend Jabez Bunting (Megan Gaunt) bringing greetings from the Methodist Conference of 1816.
“I have been told that for the last few years your society has been meeting in a cottage known as ‘The Little Chapel’ But now you have your own building, which has cost the sum of £254 to build”, said Jabez.
The population of Denton village in 1816 was just under 2,000 and the only main thoroughfares were Ashton and Stockport Roads. The 22 years war was just ending; taxes were high and people were poor. Nevertheless, undaunted by the sizeable loan required to fund it, a deed was signed conveying the land to Samuel Leech of Ashton-under-Lyne and the first church (The Owd Chapel as it was later known), a one-storeyed brick building, lit by candles, was built on Ashton Road capable of holding 300 persons. The first trustees of the church were John Dearden, hatter; Zachariah Peacock, shopkeeper; John Blackshaw, hatter; William Whitelegge, shoemaker, Henry Bond, hatter; and John Marshall, warehouseman.
At that time the Methodist church as a whole was growing rapidly; in the twenty years following founder John Wesley’s death it tripled in size. The focus for worship in Denton moved to Hyde Road, where Trinity was opened in 1872 and a hundred years or so later that church was replaced with the present building which itself has undergone refurbishment, with further work planned.
The celebration service concluded with the famous Wesley hymn, “And can it be “, during the singing of which hundreds of balloons were released carrying a message to continue to witness far and wide. A buffet lunch and an exhibition of church history and photographs followed.