Our History

Our story begins with John Wesley, who with his brother Charles and George Whitfield, breathed new life into whole sections of the Christian church in Britain and beyond at a time, 250 years ago, of great social and political upheaval.

 

Their movement, nicknamed Methodism because of their strict disciplines, reached Jersey via America, where young Jersey fishermen, Pierre Le Sueur and Jean Tentin, heard Laurence Coughlan, a young Methodist preacher in Newfoundland, were converted and brought the message back to their native Island in 1774.  Soon there were societies of Methodists operating both in the town of St. Helier and spreading to the country parishes.  In time young Methodist converts from English regiments, garrisoned in Jersey, were anxious to pursue their faith but as most preaching was in French they found this difficult.  Jasper Wiscombe wrote a letter to John Wesley about this problem with a request for help.  Wesley happened to be visiting a French-speaking friend, Robert Carr Brackenbury, a country squire from Raithby in Lincolnshire who had been recently widowered. He inspired him to leave home in order to further the work in the Islands.

Meanwhile . . .

 The movement in Jersey was to be much influenced by a  local young local man from St. Martin’s, Jean de Quetteville.  Jean was a serious minded young man, educated in his 'teens in Winchester, where at the age of 15 he attended a Methodist meeting and was impressed by the seriousness with which they treated religious matters.  On his return to the Island some of this was forgotten but by the age of 20 his conscience troubled him again and, having found the advice of his local rector 'to bathe in the sea and generally have a good time' thoroughly unsatisfactory, he attended a Methodist gathering in St. Helier presided by Pierre Le Sueur.  He found this challenging but finally discovered a sense of peace.  A short while later, through Robert Carr Brackenbury, Wesley's envoy to the Channel Islands, he was converted to the cause and spent the rest of his life evangelising the Islands, mostly in Guernsey where he married Suzanne de Jersey, He even did work into Continental France and produced a number of hymn books to help in this work.  By his own admission these were produced out of need and perhaps not of the highest literary merit. 

The Chapel proudly houses a memorial to these good men.  

     translation of the memorial plaque

To the memory
of
JEAN DE QUETTEVILLE

one of the founders of Methodism
in the Channel Islands.
Born in this Parish (St. Martin, Jersey)
22nd May 1761,
he was converted to the Gospel faith
through the ministry of ROBERT CARR-BRACKENBURY,
the first Methodist Missionary sent to Jersey,
by JOHN WESLEY
Admitted, in 1785, to the Itinerant Ministry
and ordained in 1791, by DR. COKE
he founded the Methodist movement in Guernsey,
was an evangelist in France for some time
and, after a long ministry,
he passed on to the presence of his Lord, in Guernsey
on the 1st February, 1843.
His exemplary work as a missionary,
his ardent zeal for salvation of souls,
his faithful and energetic preaching
and the hymns he composed
for the edification of the Methodist Societies in France
have gained him the right to the title of
APOSTLE TO THE CHANNEL ISLANDS.
This monument was erected on the occasion
of the Centenary of Methodism
in the Channel Islan

                                                                                                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The work prospered.  Methodist Societies sprang up all over the Island, first in private homes and, by the late 1810s and '20s in purpose built Chapels (1820 at St. Martin), though amid fierce persecution in the early days.  Dr. Adam Clarke, one of Methodism's great theolgians of early times, joined Robert Carr Brackenbury and Dr. Thomas Coke, also took an interest in the Islands, possibly seeing them as a launch pad for Mission, (a great passion of his) to continental France and perhaps beyond.

                                                        

 

The Rev'd John Wesley who visited Jersey in August 1787, at the age of 84.

Dr. Thomas Coke, another very influential Methodist from the early years. He ordained Jean de Quetteville and visited the Islands.  He spent some years in Jersey and the Islands before becoming a great figure on the mission field.

Robert Carr-Brackenbury of Raithby in Lincolnshire was an immensely influential Methodist in his native Lincolnshire but, bi-lingual in French and English, he was an ideal choice for Wesley as a missionary to Jersey