Anerley Methodist Church
Anerley Methodist Church is situated at the top of Oakfield Road, SE20.
The Methodist faith was founded by John Wesley (1703-1791) and was termed non-conformist because it did not conform to the tenets of the Church of England. The adherents were called Methodists because of the methodical way they carried out their Christian faith. Methodism is the fourth largest Christian community in Britain after Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism and the Church of Scotland. There are 6000 Methodist churches in Britain with 330,000 members. There are Methodist churches in most countries of the world and global membership totals some 70 million people.
Operating within the larger Methodist community, the church has a thriving small community of fifty, housed within a fascinating example of mid-Victorian architecture. Small church communities are positively encouraged by the Methodist church. The current minster is the Reverend Abe Konadu Yiadom. Four church services are held on Sundays and there is a wealth of recreational clubs and activities throughout the week. The church hall can be hired for a nominal fee.
Marion Young, a church parishioner and a member of the voluntary group Penge Partners, explains further about the church’s history:
‘The Church at Anerley dates back to 1865, when the church/schoolroom was built, under the auspices of the Wesleyan Methodist Church (Brixton Hill Circuit), although there are records of house meetings taking place in a house in Maple Road from 1862. A large church seating 1,000 people was completed in 1879 on land in front of the school-room facing Jasmine Grove.
This building was destroyed in an air-raid during 1940. The schoolroom was also severely damaged by incendiaries, and the congregation then worshipped in ‘The Hut’, a corrugated iron structure at the rear of the premises.
After the war the schoolroom was remodelled and has served as our church ever since; so in a sense we are back where we started!
In 1965 the premises were again remodelled and a large hall was added specifically to serve the needs of the local community. In 1979 a severe arson attack removed the roof of the church, and a year later a further attack caused smoke damage to the large hall. These events caused us to question whether we should continue, but in faith we rebuilt and made changes, and, although minor alterations have been made since, this is basically the church premises we have today.
Our premises are well-used by the local community and we provide facilities for a wide range of different activities. Regular uses include four other Faith groups, a flourishing pre-school, self-defence & keep fit group, dance and drama groups for young people and a dog training school.Although not a large church (just over 50 members), people have remarked on our warm and welcoming atmosphere. Our congregation encompasses all ages, from babies to 90+, and many different ethnic backgrounds. In addition to our Sunday services we have a growing Junior Church. We also have regular Bible Studies, a monthly house-group, and a weekly social club.’
Over the weekend of 9th and 10th May, 2015, Anerley Methodist Church celebrated 150 years of Christian Mission and Worship on the present site in Anerley. But as Marion Young indicates, in 1862 there are records of Wesleyan Services taking place at number 2, Marlborough Terrace, now 33 Maple Road.
Sheer determination marks the missionary zeal of all the great churches of Penge who do so much to help our community whether it be providing opportunities for social interaction or hosting food banks for those in need. This church, like St Anthony’s in Genoa Road, started life in a modest manner as a community house group, even surviving total destruction during the Blitz of the original splendid Victorian structure. What functions now as the church was once the Victorian schoolroom.
This vibrant small community is one of the stops on the Churches of Penge guided walk held during the Penge Festival. So much history and heritage is contained within church walls and the walk is well worth joining if you want to understand more about our town.
For more information and the church newsletter see: http://www.anerleymethodist.org/