Celebrations to mark the faith, mission and ministry of Australia’s first Methodist minister

A special celebration marking the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Australia’s first Methodist minister the Rev Samuel Leigh will be held at Sydney’s Wesley Centre 220 Pitt Street on Sunday 30 August beginning at 2.30 pm.

In 2012 Wesley Mission celebrated 200 years since Sydney’s earliest Wesleyans wrote a letter to the Methodist Church in Britain pleading for a minister.

Three years ago almost 2000 congregation members, supporters, donors, volunteers and staff of Wesley Mission marched through the streets of Sydney and gave thanks to God at the State Theatre for 200 years of Methodism in Australia.

The landmark service at Wesley Mission on 30 August 2015 will celebrate its sequel.

Wesley Mission Superintendent the Rev Keith Garner said the arrival of Samuel Leigh in 1815 had realised the hopes of Sydney’s earliest Wesleyans, and in 2015 Wesley Mission will give thanks for the first minister’s faith, ministry and enduring legacy.

“As Australia’s first Methodist missionary, Samuel Leigh showed remarkable courage and perseverance in the face of great hardship and the gruelling task of ministry in the fledgling colony of Sydney,” he said.

Samuel Leigh dedicated himself to preaching God’s word to as many people as possible, often by door-to-door visiting or on horseback on long, lonely roads frequented by bushrangers.

He also had a concern for the poor and for the needs of Aboriginal people.

Chair of the Wesley Mission Board Mark Scott and Non-Executive Director Keith Suter will share in the anniversary service. Choirs from St Stephen’s Macquarie Street and the Ashfield Tongan Parish will sing during the service, bringing their own unique harmonies and voices to an uplifting worship service.

Keith said modern-day Australian Christians could learn a great deal from Samuel Leigh’s faith and missionary work.

“The legacy Samuel Leigh has left is not just about the churches and ministries he instigated or set up; it is as much about his sacrificial commitment to the work of God, his determination to continue in his ministry despite heartbreaking obstacles, and his humble and enduring faith,”  he said.

To mark the anniversary of Rev Samuel Leigh’s arrival, a biography written by Keith Garner entitled Samuel Leigh: The first Methodist missionary to Australia and New Zealand, gives graphic accounts of his inspiring perseverance in the face of significant hardship. Copies will be available at the service or afterward by emailing communications@wesleymission.org.au or calling 1800 021 821.

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