Methodists in Inverness
John Wesley first visited the town of Inverness in 1764 to preach to a fledgling Methodist Society which, at that time, had no meeting house of its own. He was therefore grateful for the hospitality he received from the Old High Kirk (which can be seen over the river opposite our present Church) where he preached on Sunday, 10th June . The Inverness Methodist Society (and later Church) has enjoyed the full support of the Presbytery of Inverness ever since. When Wesley revisited the town only six years later, however, he was able to preach in a "commodious room” in Dunbar’s hospital, and by the end of that year of 1770 the Methodists had converted a disused malt kiln into their first Chapel in what is now Academy Street.
The new society was then part of a ”circuit” of Societies stretching from Aberdeen to Wick and went from strength to strength in the late eighteenth century. The driving force behind these developments was a young preacher, Duncan Macallum, who was appointed by Wesley in 1776. He was eventually ordained by Wesley in 1787, so becoming the first Methodist minister in the North, based mostly in Inverness, but responsible for the whole North of Scotland circuit. The crowning achievement of Duncan Macallum’s ministry was the erection of a new and a larger chapel in Inglis Street in 1797.
Seventy years is a very short lifespan for any church, but by 1866 the Chapel Trustees decided that the church had once again outgrown its accommodation. At this time church attendance was at capacity and the Sunday School had between 115 and 140 regular members, so it was decided to demolish the old chapel and build a new church on the same site. Construction commenced in 1867 and the opening service was held on 31 August, 1868. However the records show that from 1883 onwards there was a continuous search for larger and better appointed building that would meet the needs of the expanding Methodist Church. This was finally satisfied when the old Inverness Music Hall in Union Street was purchased in 1922 and was a flourishing church until the night of 6/7 December 1961 when the premises in Union Street were completely destroyed by fire. Despite this disaster, the warm goodwill and sympathy of the people of Inverness sustained the Methodist congregation over the following few years until this present Church was opened in 1965.
So for over 250 years our Methodist Church has enjoyed that same support from the people of Inverness that Wesley experienced on his first visit. We are proud that our Church is still spoken of as a very friendly place and that is a tradition we will continue to promote.