A Cornish mining engineer, Thomas Chegwin, began the first class-meeting at the Palhal Mines in northern Portugal in 1854. Another layman, James Cassels, introduced Methodism into Oporto and in 1868 built the first Methodist chapel, in Vila Nova de Gaia. In the early years the work was supervised from Gibraltar. The first missionary, Robert Hawkey Moreton, was sent to Oporto in 1871 and was Superintendent for 43 years. He was supported by two converts from the RC priesthood and later by Alfredo da Silva, who succeeded him as Superintendent. Early in the twentieth century a flourishing work began in Lisbon, which was later handed over to another evangelical body. The work in the north, centred on Oporto and Aviero, continued as an Overseas District of the British Conference until it gained autonomy in 1996. In 2002 the Igreja Evangelica Metodista Portuguesa reported a membership of 4,500 and a total community of 5,000. Despite the smallness of the Church, social outreach includes day centres for small children and the elderly.
See also Aspey, Albert