Empingham Methodist Church - About Us ...

Our Mission

At a church council meeting in 2002, the members considered the future of the cause in Empingham. Rather than stand still and face the possibility of further deterioration of the building and worse, the likelihood of closure, the small, mostly elderly membership felt led to go forward and embark upon an ambitious scheme involving complete refurbishment of the premises.

Members felt there was a clear God given vision for this work to include a deeper commitment; individually and corporately to their witness and involvement in the community. After much prayer, hard work and dedication, gifts and grants were given and promised and considerable encouragement received from the circuit and district. The vision became a reality and currently major and imaginative refurbishment is underway and due for completion by Christmas 2005.

A major part of the outreach and mission has been the establishment of a satellite community Post Office open Monday afternoons when refreshments and Fair-trade produce is also on sale. This has proved very popular and successful, especially among the older folk and expansion is a possibility.

We have seen a growth in membership and other regular attenders, including younger members. There has been an encouraging willingness to increase regular financial support for both church funds and other causes and appeals.

We have enjoyed courses on Methodism and the Presence report; both also attended by Anglican friends. There is a distinct possibility of further ecumenical involvement.

We have two worship leaders and others willing to participate in services. Some members have attended Alpha courses, Kaleidoscope and safeguarding, the church has its own safeguarding policy in place.

Two members and our superintendent minister are closely involved in local education as governors of the village primary school, one as Chair of governors.

The minister also conducts assemblies and RE lessons. There is the possibility and hope that these roles would be carried on by any future Circuit minister.

One member is also a governor of the local Community College (secondary education) and is also Chair of the Parish Council.

These roles are also seen as a positive commitment to our involvement in the life of the village community and part of our outreach.

Our members are supporters of Trade Justice issues and our church has a Fairtrade certificate.

Our Sunday morning worship includes a monthly All Age Worship service and one afternoon service when members are joined by others, mainly older people, who do not otherwise regularly attend other services. This is an informal occasion, led mainly by our own members, when favourite hymns are chosen followed by tea.  We have a similar outreach to the local sheltered accommodation.

There is a morning ecumenical prayer and bible study group and after refurbishment we intend to continue the children’s work that met on a weekday after school. It is intended to extend further our children’s work perhaps to include special school visits to our Church for certain occasions and events and further holiday club activities. A mother and toddler group is envisaged, as is the possibility of occasional mid-week services for families. It is hoped that any future Circuit minister would participate in these activities when and where possible.

Geographically, Empingham is at the centre of the Stamford & Rutland Circuit, being mid-way between Stamford and Oakham.  We hope to continue to provide accommodation for various Circuit activities.

Our vision of God’s work in our community includes a Circuit office for central administrative purposes. Use of the church for retreat and away days, quiet days and as Empingham is situated close to Rutland Water, we will be hosting lunches and teas for visitors.

We will encourage people of all ages to see our Church as a regular meeting place within a safe, loving Christian atmosphere and influence. We believe God is the heart of our work in this community and we are excited by all the possibilities open to us.

Return to Top 

A Brief History Of Methodism In Empingham

Probably there were Methodists in Empingham when the 19th Century began, for there were enough members in and around Stamford for the Stamford Circuit to be carved out of the Kettering one in 1806.

Shortly before 1818 the house of William Davis, in Church Street, now occupied by Kirstine Hamilton [ formerly the home of Di Deamer] was used for worship, and in 1821 it was formally licensed at the Rutland Quarter Sessions.

It seems probable that “the old chapel” on the farm of Charles Keen came into use between 1821 and 1830. It was adjacent to the farm house and had been a butcher's shop. For, like some other farmers of that time, he was a butcher too. The building stood end on to the road and came right up to the pavement. The site is now occupied by 18 Main Street.

In 1840 W.Ogden and J. Tucker were both local preachers and it may be that R. Christian, who was in trouble for preaching at Empingham ideas that were not Wesleyan, was another. In 1841 Keen attended a Circuit Meeting and promised that Empingham would put on a tea to help reduce the Circuit debt.

The Empingham Benefit Club attended chapel on its Feast Day in the years 1843 to 1847. In 1847 the preacher was the Rev. Mr. Watson a Wesleyan preacher of Stamford. He married Keen's daughter Elizabeth, who died in 1863 aged 43, She was buried in the churchyard.

As the number of worshippers grew the building was enlarged with the help of Mr. Cragg of the Mill House. In the 'eighties' there were renovations which cost £60, At some time a gallery was added and in 1892 an American organ was installed.

The class system was a valuable part of Methodism. Each member was under pastoral care of a class leader and had to hold a class ticket, which in those days cost 6d. a quarter. On 29 September 1870 there were 18 members under C. Keen and JTucker.

When Keen died later that year his place was taken by William Redshaw. After Keen's death 5s. a year rent was paid to the Normanton Estate, In 1878 there seem to have been only 15 members, but the number of class members does not adequately express the strength of Methodism, which has always had many other adherents or 'hearers'. When application was made to the Wesleyan Chapel Committee in 1899 to erect a new chapel it was stated that there were 32 members and 133 hearers, and that the existing building, which held 140, could not accommodate the increasing congregation and flourishing Sunday School. In the application it was stated that the average annual amount received from pew rents in the past five years was £3.10s. and that £7. P.a. came from other sources.

The Earl of Ancaster agreed that when the 'old chapel' was pulled down the material should be sold and the proceeds of sale go towards the cost of the new one. He also gave the site.

On 21 July 1899 the 'old chapel' was used for the last time.The pulpit was occupied by William Hinson, Next day the contractors, Hinson Brothers of Stamford, moved in. During the transition period Mr Healey's paint shop in the block of buildings now containing the Surgery and Wheelwrights Barn was used. JohnHealey was one of the first trustees of the new chapel.

The stone laying on 17 August 1899 tell their own tale. We can mention only five of them. Thomas Wright, the saddler, laid one on behalf of the Adult Bible Class which he conducted. In 1900 it had 20 members. Robert Stafford laid one on behalf of the Sunday School. In 1901 there were 55 scholars under 6 male and 2 female teachers, with Mr Wright as the superintendent. Joseph James Healey laid a stone on behalf of his grandfather James Healey. Mrs Wade of Halifax laid one in memory of her father Charles Keen. Robert Shields laid one on behalf of friends 'in and from Scotland'. It would seem that some of the Scots coming south had found their spiritual home among the Empingham Methodists.

After the stone laying ceremony 300 people had tea in a marquee. At 6.30 pm. There was a large public meeting. There were four principal speakers beside the usual votes of thanks. It was reported that Mrs Walshaw of Halifax, perhaps another of Keen's daughters, moved the feelings of her hearers as she dwelt on memories of the old days. The sum of £250.10s. 1d. was raised in all.
The opening was on 30 November 1899. The Rutland & Stamford Mercury, gives a list of furniture given and to-day we find it amusing to read that Mrs Shields gave twelve umbrella stands! The preacher was a former President of the Wesleyan Conference, the Rev. Hugh Price Hughes. His text was St. John ch 4 v 25 - 26, which the reader may care to look out for him or herself. The School Log Book records for that day that few children attended school in the afternoon, most were at the opening.

There must have been several sittings at tea in the Audit Hall, for 500 teas were served. Another mammoth public meeting then followed, Mr Price Hughes spoke for an hour on the value of true religion, of the importance of belonging to the Church of Christ and the honour of belonging to the Wesleyan Methodist Church, a section of the whole. The Rev. S. Hunt followed in 'happy style'. He had been a junior Methodist minister in Stamford and was apparently a favourite in Empingham. On the day £101. 0s. 7d. was raised. It seemed that the building cost £967 and not £849 as expected. That was because the first contractor had backed out.

The accounts for 1900 are interesting. A tea on Good Friday and the collection at a service raised £2.5s.5d. Collections at the afternoon and evening services on Easter day yielded 15s.6d. A sum of £2.12s. was raised at a tea and a lecture by Mr Hunt. At the afternoon service on Harvest Festival Day £1.0s6d. was collected and £5.18s. in the evening. A tea and a night meeting on 3 October raised £3.9s.11d. The Christmas singers raised £1.10s. and pew rents brought in £8.13s3d.

About this time H. Munton, Reuben Redshaw, John Healey and Robert Stafford were the class leaders. Mr Redshaw was the postmaster. John Healey was a wheelwright and blacksmith who later became a farmer also.

Such pieces of information as we can gather help us to see across the years a picture of a vigorous Methodist Society, and we realise that many Empingham people found their religious, social and cultural centre in the chapel. It was the time when churches of all religious denominations were crowded for Harvest Festival services. Among the Methodists there was plainly a partiality for teas and an appetite for long sermons. The 'lecture' was basically a longer-than-usual sermon. Great stress was laid on the Sunday School and the new chapel was built to provide accommodation for it. Pew rents were necessary because Methodists rarely had any endowments.

It is perhaps fitting to close this brief account by quoting the words of Charles Wesley inscribed on the stone which bears the Rev. Hugh Price Hughes’ name: ‘Thou, 0 Christ, art all I want.'

The writer would like to make it clear that he has used the word 'chapel' instead of the word 'church' because that was the word that the Methodists themselves then used for their place of worship. He would also like to express his gratitude to Mrs. R. W. Clark, Mr. J. B. Wright, the staff of Stamford Library and the staff of the Lincolnshire Archives Office.

                                                                                       J.E. Swaby. M.A,Ph.D. 
                                                                                       Canon Emeritus of Lincoln.

Return to Top 

Our members are supporters of Trade Justice issues and our church has a Fairtrade certificate.

A major part of the outreach and mission has been the establishment of a satellite community Post Office open Monday afternoons when refreshments and Fair-trade produce is also on sale. This has proved very popular and successful, especially among the older folk and expansion is a possibility.













Return to Top 

Website created by: Alison Ashby    

Page Last Updated: 22 October 2014