‘In the future, when your children ask you,’What do these stones mean to you?’ you should tell them …’ Josh 4:6-7
The celebration of Rainham Methodist Church 90th anniversary offers us opportunities to involve the church family and the community in discovering, retelling, and sharing the church’s history, mission, evangelism, renewal, and vision especially to our children. In Joshua 4 we read about the purpose contemplated by the conveyance of the twelve stones to Gilgal. The reflections is that the stones might be a standing/spiritual record to posterity of the miraculous passage of the Jordan or Rainham. The heart of man is very prone to forget the miraculous works of the Lord hence, the conveyance of the stones to Gilgal in reference to Methodism in Rainham is worthy of remembrance, renewal, and celebration for the glory of God and legacy to our children.
What a joy it is to celebrate 90th anniversary of Rainham Methodist Church in a community where the father of Methodism, John Wesley retired to in order ‘to prepare another edition of the New Testament for the press.’ It is important to note that John Wesley preached to a large congregation at Rainham on 6 December 1787 and the text was Hebrews 9:27, ‘And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement.’Wesley also preached at Purfleet on 20th January 1785 .. and on 5th December 1787 ‘to a deeply serious congregation, many of whom walk in the light of God’s countenance.’ His text in Purfleet on 5th December was Matthew 8:2, ‘And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou will, thou can make me clean.’ Methodism was introduced into Rainham largely by John Valton who then lived in Purfleet and services were held in Mr Harle’s house (a man of great possessions).
Methodism died out in Rainham due to the mob’s persecution until it was revived briefly about 1830. For another 87 years Wesleyan Rainham could not regain its spiritual fervour and evangelism until 1927 when the stones were laid again by members and some Methodist organisations for the present building and constructed for worship under the leadership of Charles Bramwell, father of Evans Bramwell and supported by many others. Under the pressure and demand for more regular worship, mission and mid week programmes, the present church building was built in 1957 while the old church building was dedicated for uniformed groups and other community activities as guided and safeguarded by the Methodist policy.
Wesleyan Rainham is so worthy of remembrance and retelling to our children as a way forward (Prov 13:22). God gave orders for preparing memorial not just as commemorative celebration but as a sign to our children and for continuity. The stone of Wesleyan Rainham is a joyful and amazing spiritual heritage to retell and experience with the desire for personal and church renewal so as to have an impact on our community, circuit, district and British Methodism. In such a time of increase migration and globalisation, a way forward for Wesleyan Rainham calls for multiculural missional refocusing and integration with emphasis on outreach to children, families, schools, and community. With the minister as a team leader-in-mission, a way forward calls for ‘a vision to build a church that is increasingly alive and accessible to outsiders and characterised by a willingness to face the cost of change and growth and to take risks.’ As we mark 90th of our church’s founding, let us celebrate our faith in hope for a renewing growth in Jesus Christ. Let me conclude this message pleading with us to reflect on the attached picture on what God is saying not only to Thurrock alone but to us in Rainham and the church in general. HAPPY RENEWING 90TH ANNIVERSARY.
Let us remember all the past, present and future saints in the church and pray for revival in Rainham again.