St Hugh and St John

Church in Chells

History

St John ChurchSt John's Methodist Church started as a House Church at 95 Chells Way in the autumn 1959, and then moved to Mobbsbury House whilst waiting for the Church to be built. Mobbsbury House was lived in by a St Hugh's Churchwarden at the time! There was some delay because the first idea was a proper House Church, but a "real" Church was opened on 12 December 1964. The building still stands in Chells Way as a County Council Resource Centre. The appointed Minister was Revd Chris Bamber. 


St Hugh's Anglican Church initially met in three garages knocked into one in Pankhurst Crescent inphoto of Church in the garages 1960. The Church (the current building) was opened in November 1965, and the appointed Vicar was Revd Arnold Bennet. 

Both congregations were dismayed that two major Church buildings had been built only 200 metres apart. At this time there were talks between the Anglican and Methodist Churches about joining together but these failed (the Clergy in the Anglican Church voted against!).

At this point St Hugh's and St John's congregations decided to work together as much as possible. Eventually they invoked the Sharing of Churches Act 1969 and both buildings were in use by both denominations. This took place on Easter Sunday 1975. They were not allowed at that time to become an Area of Ecumenical Experiment because only two denominations were involved. A few years later, when the cost of maintaining two separate buildings became too much, St John's was sold and both congregations worshipped at St Hugh's, initially at separate services but finally together as today. They were also finally allowed to become a Local Ecumenical Project as they were known that time.

At the time of joining Rev Geoffrey Marshall was the Vicar of St Hugh's. St John's was led by a Lay Worker Mrs Kathleen Richardson, who subsequently trained for the ministry and became the first woman Chairman of the District ( = Bishop) and the first woman President of the Methodist Conference ( = Archbishop of Canterbury). She is now Baroness the Rev Dr Kathleen Richardson.

When St John's building was sold (for £1 - but were charged £100,000 for the land it stands on!) the proceeds were used to buy a Manse (Methodist Minister's House) in Sandown Road and to build the Upper Room and the Chapel. A plaque above the Chapel door states that it was dedicated on 8th June 1988 At  about this time, the church was renamed “St Hugh and St John” combining the names of the two denominational churches, formally recognising the unity which had been achieved.

During the 1980’s the development of Chells Manor begun, and continued into the 1990’s, swellingExterior photograh showing church and cross the population of Chells to about 12,000 people. The 1990’s saw major repairs to the church, and a move in a more evangelical direction with the appointment of a new vicar. The repairs eventually cost £80,000. The money was raised over three years (1993-96), given by many different organisations and individuals; Marmalade proved an amazing fundraiser! The Methodist Church both centrally and locally gave very generously. This was certainly a time when many really discovered the faithfulness of God.