St. James Methodist Church began its work in Hope Town in 1820 on the same location it stands now, under the leadership of Rev. Joseph Ward, of London England, on behalf of the Methodist Missionary Society. Rev. Ward was responsible for the “Northern Circuit” of the Methodist Ministry in the Bahamas.
The first chapel was built in 1820 and served as the Sunday Chapel as well as a “Sabbath Day Methodist School: where reading, writing and cypher were taught. Rev. Thomas Lofhouse was the first permanent minister to live here (in the house next door – still standing).
Historical records indicate that the first chapel was built of three foot thick limestone blocks, but even then it was destroyed in the Great Hurricane of 1932. The second chapel was built of poured concrete and was torn down in 1970 after having been ‘condemned’ by engineers, though it took a lot of work and dynamite to finally take it down. This was replaced with a wooden structure until it burned down in 1988, when the current beautiful church was built from funds raised locally, by the long-time lay preacher, Mr. Vernon Malone and his wife Mrs. Barbara Malone.
The pastiche above shows the four structures starting from top left to bottom right.
The next two are of the second church, this time with a little more clarity. The older pictures we have (courtesy of Mr. Vernon Malone), are unfortunately quite faded (though, fortunately we do have them!)