A brief history of FSMC
The chapel has a unique and diverse history, but one where we continue to pray that Jesus will build His Church.
Our chapel has its roots in Primitive Methodism characterised by its worship, prayer life, gospel preaching and desire for mission. The first meetings were held in the open by Rev Joseph Grieves, who first visited in June 1829. The next month he writes that he preached for the first time "on a large boat near the quay; the most populous and wicked part of the town". Over the coming months many were saved and God's power was felt strongly. Meetings were started indoors in sail lofts around the harbour. By 1831 the chapel was opened having cost £830 1s 1d. Alterations have been made over the years, but it remains in appearance substantially the same. As a listed building there is a limit to what is allowed.
Celebration teas, Sunday School Treats, Camp meetings and "protracted meetings", (all night prayer meetings), were common features of the chapel's life, much of which still continue in a modern format today.
Times of revival have been felt in the town particularly in the early 1860's when Rev William Booth visited and often preached in this chapel. In 1905 meetings were once again held outside and in sail lofts as the town's chapels were of insufficient size to house all the interest.
In the early days Sunday School was held in the chapel in cramped conditions. In 1904 the Rev John Sadler started a building fund to erect a Sunday School. Unfortunately, this coincided with a number of poor fishing seasons and the fund was shelved. However, the foundation stones for the building were laid on August 26th 1922.
For those with a particular interest in the history of the church, former minister, Rev. Philip E Slater, wrote an excellent booklet on this subject up to 1962. Long out of print there are few copies left. Thanks to Robert Pollard, we have been able to photograph each page and make it available in portable document format (the universal pdf). However, due to limitations of file size the quality is not great, but well worth the effort.
Of the many evangelist that visited FSMC in the last century, one that stands out is David Shepherd, whose lilting Welsh accent preached the gospel with great authority and success. Some of his messages still survive and can be found (and downloaded) from the Association of Evangelists website.
Whilst it is good to look back on our history, we recognise the need to be history makers. Our desire is that future generations will remember us as disciples who followed Jesus with a passion and saw the church grow in depth, strength, unity and love.
A lot of folks ask why the entrance is not on the harbour side of the building. There was never a road along the harbour front until the 1920s, just little paths and access points for the abundance of cellars sail lofts and small businesses. The name Fore Street, common to many towns refers to the street close to the hub, leading to the market. In St Ives, Fore Street leads from the hub, the once busy, industrious harbour, especially The Slipway area, to the Market Place. Hundreds of years ago there used to be a breakwater just a short distance to the east of The Slipway. When you walk along the top of The Slipway at the foot of Fore Street you can see the old granite marking where the road passed before 'The Prom' road existed.
The link below is a somewhat less FSMC based history, but rather the memoirs of the wife of the minister who wrote the booklet mentioned above. It is a fascinating read of their lives including their missionary work in China prior to taking up ministry at FSMC. There is a charming and detailed account of life at that time, seen through the eyes of 'the preachers' wife'. However, Mrs Slater was an influential and hard working person in her own right. Her memoirs were completed shortly before she passed into the next life.