In 1799, the English Methodist Conference sent Rev. John Stephenson to Bermuda. He was soon accused of “inflammatory preaching” because people were afraid that his messages would incite a rebellion amongst the black slaves in Bermuda. Despite his arrest, Rev. Stephenson continued to preach, delivering sermons through the grate of his cell window in St. George’s jail.
Nine years later, in 1808, Rev. Joshua Marsden was sent to Bermuda. He established a Sunday School and day schools at St. George’s and eventually moved to Hamilton because it was a more central location. At first he preached in an inn and later on in a room over some stores. This arrangement soon proved to be too small for the growing congregation so money was raised to buy some land (near where the City Hall parking lot is today). Zion Chapel was opened on March 1810. One of the first members of the congregation was Edward Fraser, who would eventually become the first missionary in the Methodist Church to be be born as a slave.
By 1868, the congregation had outgrown the church building but it was not until September 1876 that the cornerstone for a new church building was laid. Wesley Methodist Church was dedicated on December 29, 1881 with a crowd of 800 people attending the evening service. The organ was installed in 1924 and completely renovated in 1981. In 1964 a new church front was added.