In 2013, two hundred years after John Hodge introduced Methodism to Anguilla, the Bethel Methodist Church in South Hill observed its 135th anniversary with a special service. It’s said that “John Hodge, a free-coloured man and cock fighter who turned preacher, spread the Methodist ministry among the slaves in Anguilla and planted the first Methodist church on the island.”
Bethel, perched on a hill, overlooks Road Bay, Sandy Ground; and, the story is often told how the members of the congregation sneaked out during a morning service to view, with great interest and excitement, Anguillian owned and crewed sailing boats racing into the harbour on their way home from Santo Domingo filled with men returning from cutting sugar cane.
Because of its rich history and beautiful architecture, visitors to the island make it a habit to stop at the Bethel Methodist Church to take in the picturesque Road Bay; marvel at and take photos of the skilful stone work, unique shutter windows and attractive double wooden red doors; and, eagerly enter to rows of pews, overhead fans and colourful stained glass windows.
Such is the overwhelming impression visitors have of the nearly 140-year old building, it earns rave 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor and Fodor’s, two of the world’s online premier travel sites. To its credit, Bethel Methodist Church continues its rich tradition of being a leader in the Methodist and wider religious community.