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United Free Methodists (former)

96 Pakington Street, St Kilda

The United Free Methodist Church was established in 1857 with the union of the Arminian Methodists and the Wesleyan Methodist Association. The latter group had been formed by Methodists in 1836 in the large industrial cities of northern England who believed in lay rights rather than ministerial authority. The United Free Methodist Church was closer to Congregationalism than Wesleyan Methodism. In Australia it was strongest in Victoria but it was much weaker than other Methodist groups with only forty-four churches in Victoria in 1901.[1]

The foundation stone for the chapel was laid on 29 March 1859 by a Mr Orr. The land had been donated by Henry Jennings. The congregation had been holding services in a private house but increasing numbers dictated a larger venue.[2] It is one of the five oldest churches in St Kilda and is distinctive because it was not built for a major denomination. David Bick notes that there were very few United Methodist churches in Melbourne around the date this church was built and therefore presumably there are few if any of their buildings surviving. In addition, this United Free Methodist church and Sacred Heart in Grey Street are the only churches in St Kilda built in a Classical style. A brick porch was added probably early in the twentieth century and weatherboard rear additions were made and changes to the church itself. Without these alterations the church would have merited addition to the Register of the National Estate.[3] The building is now a private house.