A DORSET church is celebrating 150 years of praise by inviting friends old and new to call in.

On Saturday, June 13, Upton Methodist Church hosts an open morning and Church Gift Day, with displays, music and refreshments, from 10am-2pm.

It will offer a chance to meet old friends and reminisce while looking at an exhibition of photos and church history. There will be tea and coffee, plus activities for children.

On Sunday, June 14, at 10.30am, a celebration service led by the minister, the Rev Mark Kimber, will include the choir and worship band. It will be followed by a light buffet lunch and the exhibition will be available to look at again.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had links to Dorset. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all came from the county, and in October 1774 John Wesley wrote in his journal about a preaching in Purbeck.

Methodists began meeting in Lytchett Minster in 1789, probably in a cottage at what is now Roberts way.

Land was secured for a church in 1865 and foundations were laid that year.

A school room was added in 1877 and the church was licensed for marriages from 1894.

Developments since then have included building a caretaker’s cottage in 1922, a primary department in 1927 and a garage for the minister’s car – replacing a stable for his horse – in 1938.

The caretaker’s bungalow was condemned in the 1970s and was replaced by a play area and garden. A new hall opened in 1979, the church and vestry were remodelled in 1987, and the extension and refurbishment of the kitchen was the church’s Millennium project.

The church was known as Lytchett Minster Wesleyan Methodist Chapel until 1958, when it became Upton Methodist Church. The name change was proposed by Fred Fancy, father of Janet and Margaret, who are still members of the congregation.

Doreen Stevens opened a play group in 1969, which is now the pre-school.

In 1922, average Sunday congregation was 28 adults and 35 children in the morning and 44 adults and 10 children in the evening.

Today, it draws 52 adults plus 17 children in the BIG BUG Club – standing for Be in God’s Brilliant Upton Gang and formed by former minister the Rev Nic Wood.

The church’s 150th anniversary project involves expanding the New Hall with toilets and a quiet room, improving facilities for the pre-school.

For more details of the celebrations, email info@uptonmethodistchruch.net