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Cobb's Hill Methodist Church

Moonlight ChurchLance Furbert
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The Cobbs Hill Methodist Church, in Warwick parish, is the oldest existing Methodist building in Bermuda. It was completed and dedicated for the worship of God on November 17th, 1827. The courageous early Methodist missionaries endured persecutions and imprisonment fighting for the right to preach the Gospel to slaves. An example was the Rev. John Stephenson, who was imprisoned in St. George's.

The slaves were further inspired by a young Christian man named Edward Fraser, a slave, brought to Bermuda from Barbados around 1818 by his owner, Mr. Francis Lightbourne. Fraser was a popular preacher and class leader who encouraged the other slaves to work together to build their own place of worship.

The Hon. James Christie Esten, the Chief Justice at the time, who was always sympathetic to the Methodist cause, made it possible for a piece of land to be released to the slaves for their building. Construction began in 1825 by free men, women and slaves. They toiled in their spare time, mostly in the moonlight, cutting stone from nearby quarries and carrying it on their backs, shoulders, and heads to build their church. The building was completed in 1827 and the bell in the tower was added soon after.

Edward Fraser was granted his freedom on January 22nd, 1828 because he showed such promise as a preacher, and he was ordained as a minister by the Methodist Society in London. He traveled to England and spent the rest of his life as a Methodist missionary, preaching and  educating others in the West Indies. Reverend Fraser never returned to Bermuda. The work of the church suffered a little when Mr. Fraser left, but the faithful ones carried on with the help of other slave leaders such as Keturah Bean, Joseph DeShields (preacher), Lucas Landy, Benjamin Wilson, Daniel Wilson (song leader) and Richard Conyers (builder). A young white man named Thomas Smith also gave significant help during this time. About the time of emancipation, there were 66 members and 7 classes in the Warwick Methodist Society with one white class led by Francis E. Chaplin.

From 1911 to 1948, Thomas Dalziel Stowe Dill served as choir leader and Sunday school superintendent, steward, lay preacher and bell ringer. There are four generations of Mr. Dill’s descendents and three generations of Benjamin Wilson's and Richard Conyers' descendents   worshipping in the church today.