The earliest record of what is today the Walmer Methodist Church began with meetings in the home of Mr and Mrs John Holmes in the last few years of the 1800’s. By 1900 services were conducted in the “Tin Tabernacle” at 161 Main Road. In 1935 the Women’s Auxiliary was formed and the first Trust Committee meeting was held on 1 February 1938. The first Harvest Festival was held on Sunday 7 March 1938. Evening services in place of the usual afternoon gatherings were made possible when the installation of electricity was approved by the Trust Committee of 19 December 1944.
Two adjoining plots on the corner of Main Road and 7th Avenue were purchased early in 1945. This came from a July 1942 move initiated by Rev E F Piper, who oversaw both Pier Street and Walmer Societies, to motivate the use of a part of a bequest left by the late Sir Edgar Walton to be used for the purchase of land in Walmer. Late in 1948, with the decision to transfer the Methodist work from Pier Street to Walmer, moves were made to prepare plans for a new Church. On 5 March 1950 the foundation stones for this building were laid, one by Mr William H Pearce (the first person to be married in the Tin Tabernacle in 1900 to Laura Holmes) and the other by Mr Herbert Hurd. At the opening service in September of the same year, the, then, Chairman of the Grahamstown District, Rev E W Grant officiated. Rev John Richards, fondly known as “Father John” oversaw the running of the church for the first two years. In 1951, Rev Milton Martin, assistant to Rev E W Garrett, the President of Conference, was appointed the first minister with full pastoral charge of Walmer. Thereafter a string of probationer ministers followed: David Jones (1952-1954), John Woolf (1955-1956), Malcolm Dickerson (1957), Peter Woolston (1958) and Ian Mutton (1959). In 1960 Ken Carstens (1960-1961) was the first ordained minister and at this time the first manse was acquired at 62 Water Road. When Ken left for the USA, Herbert Lovemore (1962-1967) took over the reins. Charles Moore (1968-1970) followed and then Stanley Millar (1971-1973). In 1973 the present Church was completed. The foundation stone was laid on 11 June 1972 by Rev Dr C E Wilkinson, then , Chairman of District. Substantial funds for this building were raised by the Women’s Auxiliary and through the Tea Booth at Crusader’s Cricket Ground. Thereafter came Mike Mackintosh (1974-1978) and John Lewis (1979-1984). In 1977 the manse at 73 Main Road was built.
In the 20 year stint of Rev Derrick Jolliffe (1985 -2004), Walmer really grew beyond expectations. In 1992, the second five year plan culminated in the opening, on 1 December 1996, of the improved complex. This included the “Fellowship Centre” which joined the 1950’s Main Hall and the 1973 Church. A deliberate move to create more adequate parking, an upgrade of audio-visual facilities and changes in the sanctuary resulted in a modern multi-purpose complex. Derrick excelled at delegating. Key to his ministry was an unshakeable conviction for ordinary people doing extraordinary things for a Church with a fantastic future.
From 2005 to the present, the senior minister has been Jonathan Hobson. In 2008 Tim Marshall joined the staff as associate minister and Youth Director. In this time the John Woolf chapel has been extended (opened by Rev Derrick Jolliffe on 22 April 2007). Apart from the added seating, specific facilities were created for parents of young children to attend Church. In 2008 a process of discerning began to initiate the Next Step to place the Society in a position to minister more effectively as a community and beyond the Church community in a God-honouring way. In 2009 upgrades to the Sanctuary and complex audio-visual facilities began. 71 Main Road, long loaned to Walmer for use by the Society by a member who had purchased it in Derrick’s time, was bought by the Church in 2010. In September 2010 the youth department moved into the manse in renovated offices and renovations were done at 71 Main Road to establish a larger meeting hall, offices and a Caretaker’s flat. In August 2014 all the staff finally moved into the 73 Main Road manse – now a rezoned, re-designed and renovated new administrative block. In the Church complex alterations and additions were made towards a complex for use for many and diverse activities. A last phase of renovation which looks to upgrade the kitchen and toilet facilities is on hold until the present improvements are tried and tested and fully paid for.
“Tin Tabernacle” – 161 Main Road, Walmer around 1900
First Church foundation stone laying – 83 Main Road, Walmer 1950 (now Founder’s Hall)
Church Exterior – 1973
Church Interior – 1973
WHEN LIFE GETS TOO HARD TO STAND…KNEEL
The Chapel is open after all services if you would like someone to pray with you, or if you would prefer to pray on your own.