Rev. John Wesley

Methodism came to Kingston in 1791 with an itinerant American preacher, William Losee. In 1811 William Moon, a young schoolteacher recently arrived from Yorkshire, arranged for Methodist services to be held with some regularity in his schoolroom and organized a congregation.

After the War of 1812 the Kingston Methodists, under Moon’s leadership, invited Methodist preachers from Britain to come to Kingston. In due course a chapel was built on Bay Street. In the meantime another Methodist congregation had been established having an association with American Methodism. From 1835 the two congregations worked closely together.

In 1847 the two branches of Methodism in Canada united, the Wesleyan Methodists (formerly British) and the Methodist Episcopalians (formerly American). The formal union of the two Kingston congregations led to the decision to build a new church which would accommodate the united group. The old circus ground, at the corner of Sydenham and William Streets, was purchased in 1850 and in April of 1851, the cornerstone was laid.

Sydenham Street Methodist Church was completed in 1852 to the design of William Coverdale, noted Kingston architect. The tower, with its distinctive steeple, was added in 1854. In 1878 the old box pews were removed, and in 1887 the side wings and a Sunday School were added. The pulpit and choir area were rebuilt in 1929 to their present form, with a new pipe organ donated by Mrs. Henry Richardson. The Chapel was installed in 1961 and the annex was completely rebuilt with the old walls being retained.

As Kingston grew, the congregation of Sydenham Street assisted in establishing new missions and churches in the area: in Portsmouth (1855); on Wolfe Island (1857); Queen Street (1858); and on outer Montreal Street near the old railway station (1861). For a time in the 1860s a congregation met in what is now the Council Chamber in City Hall. Nineteenth century congregational groups included the Ladies Aid Society, later the Women's Association; the Epworth League of Christian Endeavour; the Women's Missionary Society; and the King's Daughters. The Sunday School reached its peak at over 400 pupils. The congregation filled the church each Sunday, morning and evening.

In 1925 the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches in Canada joined to form the United Church of Canada, and Sydenham Street became a United Church. The growth of Kingston in the 1950s and 1960s, with the erection of suburban churches and changing social attitudes, saw a decline in the congregation, which was still 400 to 600 in the 1960s. But the role of Sydenham Street increasingly became that of an inner city church devoted especially to outreach through such activities as support of community social projects and groups, making its facilities available for meetings and events, direct assistance to the poor through its Benevolent Fund, and involvement of the minister and staff associate with hospitals, theological students, and people new to the congregation.

In 1993, the congregation committed to restore the limestone exterior and roof. A few years later, the interior restoration of the sanctuary was carried out.