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Gibraltar

A society, which included both local residents and soldiers from the garrison, was begun on the Rock in 1769 by Sgt. Henry Ince, who had heard John Wesley preach in Ireland. In 1792 a group of soldiers began meeting under the leadership of another soldier, Andrew Armour. Long-standing opposition from the military authorities came to a head in 1803, but ended the following year with the appointment of a new Commander. In 1804 the first preacher, James M'Mullen, and his wife both died of yellow fever within a month of arrival (leaving a young daughter who became the mother of James H. Rigg). Outbreaks of yellow fever and of cholera repeatedly affected the work of the mission and for many years there was opposition from.the garrison chaplains.

The second preacher, William Griffith senior, arrived in 1808 and built the first church in 1809. In the 1830s W.H. Rule championed religious toleration and successfully appealed against the punishment of soldiers for being Methodists. A.B. Sackett sen. and F.E. Brown were prominent among the 20th century chaplains on the Rock. The Welcome Home and Institute, opened in 1898, served generations of servicemen and after World War II a 'Gibraltar Club' back home perpetuated the fellowship experienced on the Rock.

Until 1903 the work in Gibraltar came under the Missionary Society, but was then transferred to the Army and Navy Committee . On the recommendation of a Commission set up in 1996 the Church is now a circuit within the South-East District of the British Methodist Church.

Quotations

'Gibraltar, November 23rd, 1769: 'We have between thirty and forty joined in the Society from the different regiments, besides some townsfolk and one officer. Our proceedings are as follows: We have preaching every night and morning. We have three nights of the week set apart for class-meeting after the sermon, and on the Sabbath day at eight in the morning, two in the afternoon, and six in the evening; and for our speakers we have Henry Ince, of the 2nd Regiment, Henry Hall, of the Royal Scots, and Brother Morton, under whom the work seems to prosper.'

Soldier's letter, quoted in George Smith, History of Wesleyan Methodism (1859), Vol. 1 p.358

Sources

  • W.H. Rule, Memoir of a Mission to Gibraltar and Spain (1844)
  • W.H. Rule, Recollections of my Life and Work at home and abroad (1886)
  • O.S. Watkins, Soldiers and Preachers Too [1906]
  • R.W. Allen, Gibraltar Wesleyan Mission 1809-1909 (n.d.)
  • Susan I. Jackson, In the Shadow of a Might Rock: A history of the Gibraltar Methodist Church (2009)

Entry written by: SJP
Category: Place

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