A BASINGSTOKE church will mark an incredible milestone this weekend when it turns 100-years-old.
Kempshott Methodist Church, in Kempshott Lane, started as a tiny tin hut in the middle of a field, when Kempshott was a very small community, forming part of the parish of St Thomas in Worting.
The nearest Methodist churches were in Oakley and the town centre, and those attending the church in Kempshott would have had to walk across fields to reach the building, or use a pony and trap.
A hundred years ago there were two services every Sunday at 10.30am and 6pm.
The congregation was that of Wesleyan Methodist Church, the name used by the major Methodist movement in Great Britain following its split from the Church of England after the death of John Wesley and the appearance of parallel Methodist movements.
Colin How, senior steward at the church, said: “Historically, there were a number of branches of Methodism in Basingstoke – there were two separate Methodist circuits, each with their own churches and ministers.
“Rationalisation of duplicated churches took a long time to happen. In many places, there were Methodist churches adjacent to each other which wanted to remain independent and nothing could force them to close if they did not wish to.”
He added: “In Basingstoke, the new town centre was the catalyst for Methodist merger. Marks and Spencer stands on the site of the town centre Wesleyan Church where there is a commemorative plaque in the walkway.”
On Sunday, a special service will be held at 10.30am in Kempshott Methodist Church, to celebrate its 100 years.
Basingstoke MP Maria Miller will join the congregation, along with the Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane, Councillor Martin Biermann.
Mr How said: “Over the 100 years, Kempshott has played a full role in the community and has a congregation covering all age groups.”
Mark Wakelin, president of the Methodist Conference, sent a message to the church congratulating it on reaching 100 years. He said: “Whilst we know that the church is its people rather than its buildings, buildings are important because they are a special space where we can meet as a church family and where we can demonstrate our commitment to serving our neighbours.
“The past 100 years have seen enormous changes in both Kempshott as a place and the role of the Methodist Church within it.”