Methodism began at Oxford in England among a small group of students led by John and Charles Wesley. It was a ‘method’ of daily Bible study, prayer, worship and service to the poor.The brothers began to preach out of doors with their message for all people of salvation by grace through faith.
John Wesley came to Musselburgh in Scotland in April 1751, took a quick look at Edinburgh, and remarked ‘one of the dirtiest cities I have ever seen’. This was the first of 22 visits. He later said that the High Street (‘Royal Mile’) was ‘far beyond’ any in Britain, though ‘it stank like a common sewer’ – which indeed it was. Methodism had, in fact, arrived in Scotland before John’s first visit, brought by soldiers after the insurrection of 1745, and spread by them wherever they were sent, from Dunbar to Aberdeen.
Methodist chapels and churches were founded all over Scotland, particularly developing a strong membership in Shetland. In January 2008, four Edinburgh Methodist churches agreed to merge into one new church called The City of Edinburgh Methodist Church.
The formation of the new city church brought together four congregations:
- Abbeyhill Methodist Church
- Edinburgh Methodist Mission at Central Hall
- Leith Methodist Church, and
- Nicolson Square Methodist Church.
Please click on the links above for a history of the individual churches.
The joining of the congregations reaffirmed the commitment of Methodists to their calling to worship, learning, caring and evangelism in the city of Edinburgh. Granton United Church in north Edinburgh is an ecumenical congregation in membership of both the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.
Methodism has a rich history in Edinburgh but also an exciting present and a promising future.