The Methodist Church is inclusive and welcomes everyone. We have an open communion table for anyone who wishes to enter into fellowship with Jesus Christ. A warm welcome and on-going mutual support is one of Methodism’s and The Drive Church’s great strengths and we are a liberal, thinking church.
The Drive Methodist Church, and the Cornwall Hall behind the church, were built in 1904. For further photographs of the property and constituent rooms, see Room Hire and Gallery. Over the past decade the church has been extensively renovated. In 2012 the reception area and front entrance with a flight of stairs leading up to it were reconfigured. In 2015 the Sanctuary was transformed when the pulpit was replaced by an extended dais, and pews by comfortable padded wooden chairs. New lighting, audio-visual facilities, and solar panels were also installed at that time. The Drive Church is part of Weald of Kent Methodist Circuit.
Leadership of the church is by the Minister, assisted by a team of stewards appointed by the membership at the annual General Church Meeting. They report to the Church Council which meets twice each year and is the formal decision-making body. Its membership includes the leadership team, officers, members of the congregation elected at the General Church Meeting, and representatives of all aspects of Church life, elected by the Church Council itself. The Drive Church membership undertakes a wide range of activities and meetings described in the Annual Report to the General Church Meeting and in What’s On. When anyone joins our congregation, a pastoral visitor becomes responsible for visiting and offering friendship, spiritual support, encouragement and challenge.
Methodism and Sevenoaks: John Wesley founded Methodism. One of the greatest preachers of all time, he travelled thousands of miles on horseback ‘field preaching’ outdoors to crowds of working-class men and women. Thereafter groups of converts were formed into local societies. Wesley visited Sevenoaks several times and the first Methodist Society dates from 1753. The first (Hill’s Yard) Church was built in 1774, in the garden of the private home of a wealthy Methodist, at the back of 82 High Street. A new church in Bank Street was built in 1853.
The Drive Methodist Church Sevenoaks was built and mostly funded by Henry Swaffield, to replace this in 1904.
After Wesley died splinter groups arose and from “Bible Christian” and “United Free” Methodists, St. John’s Hill Methodist Church was established from 1882 to 1962.
The United Methodist Church was in the meantime formed in 1932, and is currently the fourth largest Christian Church in Britain with more than six thousand churches, a total UK membership of around 300,000, and a global membership of around 70 million people.
Confirmation when you are ready, is a further step of commitment you may wish to take. It is a rite, performed in a service by the Minister, which publicly signifies faith and commitment.
Membership: Being “received into membership” means that you are welcomed into your local Methodist Church, which can support you in your discipleship, and where you can support others. In a service, the minister says: “We receive and welcome you as a member of the Methodist Church, and of the church in this place.” Then the minister and a local church representative shake your hand in welcome. Being a member of the Methodist Church means that you can hold certain responsibilities, for example becoming: a steward; pastoral visitor; or local preacher. Only members can be voted onto the church council, the circuit meeting, district synod or Methodist Conference. You will receive annually a Membership Ticket signed by your minister, usually via your pastoral visitor.
Called by Name is a useful publication for new members or those considering membership, who want to know what is distinctive about the Methodist Church. Speak to Rev. Dermot if you wish to pursue any of these options.
The Church Office administers arrangements that support the life of the Church. It is the hub of church communication where three mornings per week, mail, telephone calls, and emails are dealt with, the weekly Order of Service for Sunday morning is prepared, Drive News is collated and printed, and many other connections are made to ensure the smooth running of the church, and events large and small.
Finance is overseen by the Church Treasurer. The cost of maintaining the property, worship, community services and circuit assessment (the amount contributed to the Weald of Kent Methodist Circuit), comes from regular giving, donations, and bequests. We also receive income from Room Hire of the Church Sanctuary itself, the Cornwall Hall and other rooms. The church supports other charitable causes either from its own funds or by specially arranged fund-raising, and collections. Without the financial support of the church community, much of this activity would be impossible. The Church Treasurer has to to produce budgets which are externally validated..
The Finance and Property Committee meets every few months to review the financial operation of the church, the maintenance and care of church property, and Room Hire, to ensure that the church runs effectively, in line with all current legislation, safety and financial requirements.
Donations to support our work as a church can be given in a number of different ways. The traditional way is during a service, to place your ‘offering’ into the ‘offering bag’ either as cash, or in an envelope. The Envelope Scheme is intended to encourage regular giving whether or not you are able to attend Church every week. You would be issued with a pack of envelopes, one for each Sunday of the year. You can place cash or a cheque in the envelope each week and put them in the offering bag when you next attend church. Otherwise you can set up a Standing Order through your bank, or establish an Electronic Bank Transfer. These can be changed or cancelled easily at any time, and administratively are more convenient to the church. The Church is eligible as an excepted charity, to use the Gift Aid Scheme. This Government Scheme allows us to enhance the value of your giving by 25%. For every £100 given in the tax year, the church can claim back an additional £25 from the government. Most donations to the church are now “Gift Aided” and this represents a significant part of annual income. An amount of tax which is at least equivalent to the amount of giving to the Church needs to have been paid and the donor may be able to claim back some tax when completing their own tax return. If you would like to join the envelope scheme, Gift Aid any donation to the church including in the envelope scheme, or set up a Standing Order, please see the treasurer John Archer.