Fairfield Methodist Church.
It is with great sadness and regret that the members of Fairfield Methodist Church have taken the unanimous decision to close immediately.
At the end of August 2020, Fairfield Methodist Church will officially “cease to worship” and this will bring to an end Methodism in Fairfield which started with the preaching there of John Wesley in 1783.
Waterswallows Road was the location of the first two Fairfield Methodist Churches, with the first opening in 1844 and its replacement in 1868.
In 1886 the Church moved to its present location on Fairfield Road a site which allowed for the expansion needed to cater for the large congregation and activities it supported. In 1962 this church and the congregation of the Primitive Methodist Church on Queens Road known as “the tin chapel” joined together as Fairfield Methodist Church .
This uniting of the societies proved to be a success. However, over the next few years, a number of the younger members moved away because of their employment and as the older members died, the membership decreased. In addition to this decrease the building was getting older and more costly to keep in repair.
In the early 1980’s closure appeared inevitable until after much negotiation an agreement was reached with Johnnie Johnson Housing Association for them to take over the site to build “sheltered accommodation” and include in the construction a building which would become Fairfield Methodist Church.
This building leased to the members was opened in 1985 and for many years brought renewed vigour and was home for a number of community organisations.
In 2020 the closure of this church became inevitable with the membership of eleven all being over seventy, an average age of over 85 years , some building issues, and the “final straw”, the Covid 19 pandemic and lockdown.
After being closed since March, the members voted in June, deciding unanimously to close knowing that finances were still strong, and that taking the decision then was the right time to allow them to close with dignity.
Fairfield has a proud Methodist tradition and can claim that the late Rev Dr John B Taylor was a member of the Sunday School before going on to be, among his many other roles, Chair of the Methodist Conference, the most senior post in Methodism in Britain .
As we come to close, Fairfield Methodist Church can also boast that they have the oldest Treasurer in Methodism in Mr N. E.(Norman) Brittain who is 103 years of age . Norman was a fundamental figure in the negotiations to build the current church and there is no doubt that without his resolve and negotiation skills Fairfield Methodist Church would have closed 35 years ago. Norman’s wife Mary, who is 99, has worshipped at Fairfield since a baby in arms.
For them and the other members, who before the pandemic worshipped each Sunday, closure is a sad event to which they are still coming to terms.
it is difficult to write about the history of a church because it is not just a building but a place that is full of memories and stories. It is a place where friendships have been formed and faith nurtured, it is a place where people have celebrated baptisms and weddings and remembering loved ones who had died. Even with the closure of the building the faith that has inspired people to demonstrate kindness and generosity will live on.
Fairfield has always generously supported charities and at closure the members have decided to donate £200 each to eight charities they have supported over the years.
The members at Fairfield who are in the pastoral care of Rev Andrew Parker truly believe that Fairfield Methodist Church will have followed John Wesley’s wishes to:
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
An expanded history of Methodism in Fairfield can be found [HERE]