Celebrating Wesley at Mount Zion

21 May 2024

It is said that during his lifetime, John Wesley covered 250,000 miles to undertake his preaching. There is hardly a town in the country that he didn’t visit on his horse and there are chapels still in use today that were visited by Wesley. One of them, Mount Zion Chapel near Halifax, decided to mark the 250th anniversary of John Wesley’s first visit to preach there with a service and a day of celebration.


John Wesley wrote in his journal for the 22 April 1774, “I rode to Bradshaw House, Mount Zion, standing alone in the dreary waste. Despite it being cold and stormy, people gathered around from all quarters.” Almost to the day, 250 years later, people once more gathered at Mount Zion, in considerably better weather, to sing and hear the Wesleyan message.

One hundred people attended the service. They were also able to enjoy the Hird Collection of Methodist ceramics and a selection of works from the Methodist Tapestries collection that depict the history of Methodism along with local stories that will be on display at High House Chapel, part of the Weardale Museum.

2024.04.21_Mount_Zion_VP_MT-15 small

Regular worship at Mount Zion ceased in 2014, when it was designated as a heritage chapel but services still take place at least six times a year. Diane Hadwen is the heritage worker at Mount Zion Methodist Church and she helped arrange the day’s events. Diane believes that the rich heritage of Methodism offers a way to make faith and Methodism relevant, “Understanding what brought Methodism to where it is now means we can find a way of relating it to the present day.

“Heritage is important as part of mission. Heritage chapels may not have regular worshipers but there is still a community here and there are so many people in the area that have a connection with Mount Zion. For some, events like today are the first time they have come inside here.

“The chapel has stories to tell and it remains a Christian presence in the community. This place is a testament to all those people of faith from this area over the years. The chapel remains a vibrant place that has the potential to bring people together today, as Wesley would have wanted.”

Another aspect of the chapel’s new role is with education. Mount Zion is linking with schools, colleges and universities. “We are keen to help people understand Methodism, faith and their local history,” says Diane.

2024.04.21_Mount_Zion_VP_MT-45 (1)

Deacon Kerry Scarlet, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, was invited to preach for the celebration service. Afterwards, Kerry commented, “I am often reminded of the verse in Matthew 13, where we hear about the scribe trained for the Kingdom of heaven bringing out of his storehouse the treasures of old and the treasures of new. Mount Zion reminds us that our heritage is a treasure to us. It reminds us what God did in this place, in the community and, importantly, how God reminds us to seek out treasure today.

The service was led by Revd A Kathie Heathcoat, minister of Mount Zion, “John Wesley wrote that this place offered hospitality and shelter for man and beast. And that tradition has continued, The cottage and chapel offering hospitality and shelter for all comers. A place where the gospel is preached and people are welcome. A place where the community come to celebrate marriage and to mark the passing of a loved one. It offers cream teas and conversation in the summer and warmth and encouragement in the winter.”

With enormous thanks to Sam Townsend - Flat Cap Photographer - for allowing us to share these pictures.