Small church with `big heart’ asks the public for help
Emmanuel Methodist Church, “the small church with a big heart”, is in need of a makeover and is hoping the community will come together to help make it happen.
The 150-year-old building has been in dire need of repair for some time. The roof, ceiling and walls have been of particular concern. Recently, part of the roof has been lifted, exposing the sanctuary to the elements.
George Shaw, the chairman of the board of trustees, is hopeful that the building will be restored.
“In the early days people used to meet in the homes of certain members of the Wesleyan Methodist congregants and then they decided that they needed to have a chapel in Southampton,” Dr Shaw explained.
“In 1869 some land was purchased, and building commenced on the chapel. In the beginning the church was just the north-south section and in 1884 the cross section and pulpit was added. The bell tower came in 1910.”
In 2019 the congregation celebrated 150 years, but the building had already started to show its age.
“You can imagine the wear and tear on our old lady of 150! There was a major repair job done in 1998, but there have been continued problems and it has reached the point where we had safety concerns.”
Members are still worshipping in the building, although part of the chapel is sectioned off as a safety precaution.
“We’ve made sure that it is safe. We cordoned off the areas that were unsafe. Our pastor and our members are very understanding.
“For years we have been patching things up, fixing leaks and doing our best to soothe the wounds but we have reached a point where we can no longer mitigate damage. The roof and walls needed major repairs and this expense is something that is simply not feasible for our small, but vibrant church.
Covid-19 has impacted their ability to fundraise and as a result the church has created a GoFundMe page to solicit donations from the public towards their restoration process.
“We are a very small group. I think we have about 26 members on the books and quite a few adherents who attend regularly and make up our church family. Our numbers have actually been picking up, which is very encouraging,” Dr Shaw said.
“We have recently welcomed a new minister, Pastor Eugene Thompson and we hope to be here to worship and serve the community for many more years.”