In 1944, when war was raging in Europe and the Pacific, suburban growth in rural St. Andrews Parish was just beginning. The story of John Wesley Methodist Church begins at this time, when most West Ashley residents attended downtown churches.
Rev. R. Wright Spears served communion at the home of Mrs. Sophie Smith, a house bound member of his church, Trinity Methodist. She urged him to start a nearby Methodist church. From there Rev. Homer Schuler, hired Margaret Dukes to determine if others were interested in starting a local church.
On June 8, 1944, 34 people attended worship service at the Saint Andrews Exchange Club. Rev. R. Bryce Herbert of Asbury Methodist officiated. Sunday School was held under the trees, and adult classes met in nearby homes.
By October 1944, the church was chartered with 128 members. The name John Wesley was chosen , and Rev. Edward Gott was appointed as the first minister. As membership grew, plans were made for a permanent home. It was decided to build a Sunday School building with a parsonage next door and that was completed in 1946. The sanctuary followed in 1951. The windows and all of the furnishings from pews to offering plates were donated by members.
Within a few years more classroom space was needed. The parsonage was removed and a larger one purchased on Confederate Circle. Construction on the west wing was completed in 1958. This building provided more classrooms and a large fellowship hall and kitchen.
The 60’s and 70’s were decades of continued growth. Membership increased, programs expanded, and buildings and grounds improved. In 1971 a pipe organ was installed in the sanctuary. In October 1978, with the help of Mrs. J. T. Stieglitz, the Aldersgate Chapel was presented to the church debt free. Everything in the chapel was donated by members.
The 80’s were characterized by further expansion – renovation of the sanctuary, the west building and the replacement of the first building. Completed in 1990, it houses the leisure ministries room, a kitchen, a parlor, the chapel, classrooms, and the church offices. Another round of major renovations took place in 2006 to the grounds of the church along with the floor coverings, altar area and pews in the Sanctuary. In 2021, we have continued the improvements to the Sanctuary with new flooring, increased insulation and fixing the steeple just to name a few.
As John Wesley continues to expand its ministries and missions, we remember those who began the Church and making disciples all those years ago in West Ashley. We look to forward to continuing to put faith and love into action. With God’s help, those who are here today and generations to come will continue the ministry begun during World War II just west of the Ashley.