25 Marylebone Road

25 Marylebone Road in London’s NW1 is a rather prestigious address. From the 1940s until a year last February, it was the HQ of the British Methodism Church. It was originally built in 1939 to house the new Methodist Missionary Society, which was an amalgamation of the various societies connected to the Primitives, Wesleyans and Uniteds which had formally joined together 1932. It is a great art deco construction, which was the highly fashionable style of the 20s and 30s. The sculpture above the main entrance I found hard to interpret but Chris Partridge writes:

The low relief over the front door shows Christ signing up the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James and John as disciples, telling them he will make them 'fishers of men'. Mind you, they seem to have had a very successful time as fishers of fish, judging by the number of heads peeking out from the stern of the boat. Perhaps it is a hint at the miraculous draft of fishes, Christ's first miracle after the resurrection.

Once upon a time, Methodist missions and chapels brought many to Christ. I suspect that today, the waters prove less fruitful. Before the War, British Methodists were an evangelical group and many worthwhile and laudable evangelistic endeavours would have been planned in this building. Once Doctors Soper and Weatherhead had begun turning post-war Methodism in the direction of so-called 'modernism', the missionary impetus declined. We best keep the gospel by sharing it; the gospel best keeps us when we actually believe it. 25 Marylebone Road reminds us of those better days.