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A man determined, a mission born: Australia’s first Methodist minister

4 August 2015 Wesley Mission news

Samuel Leigh

Three years ago we celebrated in the State Theatre 200 years since the call to Britain to send a preacher to lead the innovative work that a small group of Methodist people were experiencing. Now we rejoice that a dedicated man responded to the call. The story of the Rev Samuel Leigh tells of how he developed the Methodist Church and its Word and deed ministry in Australia, which ultimately led to Wesley Mission’s inception.

He was certainly a man inspired by God’s call to this far-flung colony at the very edge of the British Empire. To do this he left behind family, made dangerous ocean voyages, made precarious journeys through bushland menaced by bushrangers and sometimes simply went without food.

Mr Leigh’s welcome to Sydney in 1815 was cold, at best indifferent, and there were limited resources for him to rely on. With very little he provided leadership under which the first Methodist chapel was built, with four others constructed in the following years. He also started the first Methodist circuit, incorporating 14 places of worship. Mr Leigh then established the first Wesleyan mission in New Zealand after he was transferred there in 1822.

In Keith Garner’s latest book, Samuel Leigh: the first Methodist missionary to Australia and New Zealand, to be released at the upcoming special event on 30 August to celebrate the arrival of Samuel Leigh, Keith writes of the indomitable spirit of Leigh that we see through his many trials and interactions with people in need, starting in the slums that are now The Rocks.

“What kind of man was Leigh, who could win the trust of brutalised and desolate convict settlers and haughty officials and light the spark of salvation in a condemned murderer?”

Whether you are new to Wesley Mission or have worked for our organisation for many years, make the time to come and give thanks at this celebration and understand the very beginnings of the ministry we continue with faith in God and much vigour today.

Be inspired and fascinated by Samuel Leigh’s faith, dedication and vision and join together with the Wesley Mission family to celebrate his arrival and ministry. Do join the crowd for this great event.