We have our roots in the gathering of the first Methodists who met together in a home in The Rocks in Sydney in 1812 and shortly thereafter established a congregation. From the earliest days, we have been committed to reaching out to the people of Sydney, particularly those who were left on the margins, such as the poor and the sick.
As early as 1819, we established one of Sydney’s first refuges, the Sydney Asylum for the Poor. In living out our Christian faith in both sharing the good news of God’s love and helping those in need, the seeds were sown for what later became a thriving advocacy ministry. In the early 1880s, we changed our name to Central Methodist Mission and the Rev William George Taylor articulated a new vision for the church to offer “A living Christ for a dying world.”
Over the next century we birthed, developed and expanded a remarkable number of welfare programs for those who were experiencing homelessness, unemployment, poverty, addiction, neglect or loneliness. Throughout this time we have continually sought new and innovative ways to follow Jesus’ command to love God and love others.
In 1977, we became part of the Uniting Church after a union of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches.
Since the establishment of our first church building in 1819 at Princes Street near Circular Quay, we have sought to be in the midst of the people of Sydney. Over the years we have grown and ‘moved house’ a number of times. Remaining at the heart of the city, we built new and larger churches on Macquarie Street, then York Street and eventually on Pitt Street where we are located today.
While we are always looking beyond the four walls of our church building to the people outside as we practise our unique ‘Word and deed’ ministry, we are also deeply committed to providing a place where people can worship God in Sydney. We have two main worship spaces within our 220 Pitt Street location.
Wesley Church, built in 1991, is a warm, welcoming centre of worship that is open to all people. It is what one might consider a more ‘traditional’ worship space and is the successor to the Central Methodist Mission’s original Wesley Chapel. Most days of the week, it is busy with regular services and activities attracting thousands of people every year.
The Wesley Theatre is our second main worship space. A large multipurpose auditorium that seats 875 people, it is used for church services, staff services, large meetings, events and conferences. It is the successor to the Lyceum Theatre, which was purchased in 1905 as part of a radical and innovative move to attract people who would not normally enter a church but who may enter a theatre. It ran as a motion picture theatre during the week and as a church on Sundays. Today, Wesley Theatre is the modern day version of Wesley Mission’s historic Lyceum Theatre.