The History of this Church in Otford
Today Otford Methodist Church is a thriving Christian community, that meets on Sundays to worship God and is active throughout the week. We hold the truths about Jesus that have been valued by Christians throughout the centuries and seek to present them in a contemporary way that is relevant to people of all ages in the Twenty-First Century.
In 2005 we started phase one and built the new church halls which have become such an integral part of the village and community with a huge footfall through the year and many regular community groups who meet there. The complex is a light and airy building with a large main hall and 4 further meeting rooms with a lift and toilet facilities suitable for disabled people, a kitchen, coffee lounge and an office.
Phase 2 of our building project was the new church building – started in July 2016 with the demolition of the old chapel, and completed in September 2017. The building is wonderfully fit for its purposes of worship and community activities. Like the halls complex, it meets all the necessary environmental and CIBSE requirements to provide a warm and eco-friendly environment, which is also versatile, so can be used in many ways.
There is seating capacity for around 200 people, providing a performance venue for music, dance, drama, large meetings and other suitable events. Fully accessible disabled access, will, in due course, lead directly into the halls complex and there are multimedia facilities throughout all the church buildings.
The Origins of Methodism
The whole Methodist Church owes its origin to John Wesley in the 18th Century. After a long period of searching in his own life, on May 24th 1738, at a Bible Study Meeting in London, John experienced what he described as having his heart “strangely warmed.” It was his way of expressing what it meant to come to know Jesus as his personal Saviour and Friend. It marked a turning point in his life and he began travelling up and down the country to preach the Good News about Jesus and establish local groups to encourage one another in their spiritual journey. In all, he travelled around 250,000 miles on foot, horseback or coach and was at the heart of a revival of faith throughout the land.
The Four Alls
John Wesley had an easy way of summarizing what the Christian Faith was about. It was called “The Four Alls”.
1) All people need to be saved.
2) All people can be saved by grace, through faith.
3) All people can know they are saved (assurance).
4) All people can be saved to the uttermost (holiness).
This can be a helpful reminder to us today that, not only do we need to enter a relationship with God our Father but that we can do so by faith in Jesus, because of all He has done for us by His life, death and Resurrection. We can know this in our hearts and because of it there will be consequences in our lives as we grow to be more like Him.
On their travels, John and his brother Charles (the famous Hymn writer) often came to Sevenoaks and Shoreham, where they stayed with the Perronet family. Many “Societies” of Methodists were established in Sevenoaks and surrounding villages and like other Methodist groups only later evolved into Churches in a formal sense. The first Methodist Chapel in Otford was built in 1800, on the south side of the High Street, and had a small but faithful congregation throughout the Nineteenth Century.
The present Church building, on the north side of the High Street, was opened in 1935. Since then there has been a faithful and growing Christian presence, including members from surrounding areas. The Halls on the site have been used over the years for youth and community activities, as well as on Sundays, and in 2007 were replaced by a Halls complex, with increased and more modern facilities, that enable that work to increase. We are working towards building a larger modern Church adjoining the Halls. You can find a fuller history of the Methodist Church on the national website.