Thursday, 28 November 2013

Partners in Mission - Gunton Baptist Church

Gunton Baptist Church is a small church of around 36 members. We are the most easterly Baptist church in the country, situated just inland of the East Anglian coast, in Gunton, North Lowestoft. Gunton is an area that has been identified as having many and varied needs. It is the fourth most deprived ward in Suffolk, and within the top 12% most deprived wards in the country.

Even though we are small, we have a huge heart to reach out into the community-and over the last 12 months we have seen the church grow both numerically and spiritually baptising 8 people into membership in the last year alone.

As the church has grown and developed we have had to restructure our week-we now have 3 weekly
home groups, one weekly youth bible study group, and we are hosting ‘The Y Course’ in partnership with the local Anglican Church. The church doors are open most days of the week, and there is always a mug of tea and a chat waiting for anyone who drops in, and plenty of people do -particularly now we have become a partner in the local food bank. Our Friday drop-ins have become bustling busy mornings where the kettle is always on, andthere is food available for the most vulnerable and needy in our community. It has been our joy to see more and more local people, with no previous attachment to the church, join us on Friday mornings to volunteer -thus helping to build bridges between the church and the community.   As well as our regular outreach programme of events such as our regular ‘Cheeky Monkeys’ baby and toddler group, chair based keep fit, short mat bowls & board games afternoons, our monthly lunch club, Friday drop-in, shower and kitchen facilities, and community larder, this year has seen us take some bigger steps into the community. Building on the success of last year, in July 2013 we opened our doors and cooked a barbecue on the grounds at the front –  we put tables and chairs out and served free burgers, hot dogs, tea and coffee to anyone who was passing. This was a wonderful day, the church band played in the foyer, the church turned out to peel onions and cook burgers and to serve people – and the community turned up in their droves! Several hours and 300 burgers and hot dogs later saw us ehausted but very happy having had the opportunity to meet the community and serve them – we were able to pray with people, and several people have begun coming to the other church activities, and some to our Sunday Services following this event.

Over the course of the year, we set out to follow the vision that God had given us of developing a
community cafe. The big vision is to have an extension built onto the side of the church making better use of the space linking the church to the offices and halls and providing disabled access throughout the whole building. We have received planning permission and fund raising is in full swing, I recently did a parachute jump to raise much needed funds for this exciting project! In preparation for the building extension, we have refurbished one of the front rooms of the Church, this has become a valuable resource from which we launched our ‘Hub’ Community Cafe in September 2013. This room is also used to host outreach groups such as The Y Course.

As you can see, Gunton Baptist Church is alive and thriving and doing the work of the Lord in our community. It is a very lively, very exciting place to be, this being reflected in the growth of attendance at all our weekly activities, and particularly in our Sunday services. 

Thank you for your partnership in mission as your Home Mission giving has enabled this to happen.

This is part of a series called Partners in Mission from the EBA

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Orwell Connection Choir

It's been and gone but the video is still available here

Partners in Mission - Re:New

A more readable version of this document can be downloaded from
The EBA Website

This is part of a series called Partners in Mission from the EBA.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Wood Lane Baptist Church Dagenham

The Becontree Estate was begun in 1921 by the London County Council as part of the ‘Homes for Heroes’ scheme after World War One (the Housing Act of 1919 promised to provide ‘Homes fit for heroes to live in’). Over 300 acres of land were compulsorily purchased, mainly in Dagenham, but also in the boroughs of Ilford and Barking. Manor houses, farms and cottages were then cleared to make way for the new development.  The building of the estate took over a decade to complete.

On completion, the Becontree Estate was the largest in the world. Its 27,000 houses provided new homes for over 100,000 people. With gas and electricity, inside toilets, fitted baths and front and back gardens, they were originally intended for the better-off working class Londoner.


Wood Lane Baptist Church opened its doors for worship in 1932 and is situated on this estate. Over these past 80 years Dagenham has changed in many ways. The two major changes were the “Right to Buy” scheme, which has led to large numbers of Council houses being transferred to private buyers. Which in turn has has led to a large number of properties available for private let throughout the borough. The second major change that has happened is that the ethnicity of the borough has also changed, which has led to some cultural problems within the borough.

When I was approached to become Pastor at Wood Lane back in the Spring of 2003, I would have described the congregation as predominantly from a white, working class background. To day, we are a truly multi-cultural congregation, with many un-waged due to the present economic climate, and as a result of the majority of large industry moving away from Dagenham.

As Dagenham has changed, then so have we as a church. We have deliberately not sat down and put together a strategy about how we could accommodate the many  different cultures into our church, we have accepted one another asfamily and allowed the church to naturally evolve to the point where our cultures have combined; our worship has become more enriched; and we have multi-cultural church; we are just God’s family coming together to worship a God that we all love.

When the BNP were actively canvassing in Dagenham at the recent election we opened our building for other candidates to use for comfort brakes. Some of our members got involved, not canvassing for specific candidates or parties, but by going out and encouraging ordinary people to go and cast their vote. We like to think that these efforts led to the BNP collapse in Dagenham.

Yes, our church has grown and changed in these past ten years. The demographic of the area and the church has changed. People have come to faith in Jesus. Our strong youth work, mainly centred on Girls Brigade and Boys Brigade, continues. We sent one of our members into ministry as an accredited Lay Pastor in Suffolk. One thing has not changed, and that is that Dagenham isstill not a very prosperous area. We have recently experienced our third break in at the church this year, this time the safe itself was stolen. Security and personal safety are always an issue to consider with regard to the congregation and the buildings. The 80 year old buildings have needed a lot of repair and care.

Without the support of Home Mission we would have struggled even more than we do now. Home Mission has allowed Wood Lane to support a full-time minister, which in turn allows the Good News of Jesus Christ to be spread more widely , especially in our schools work and becoming more involved in the local community.

To all those churches that support Home Mission, we at Wood Lane, would like to say a very big THANK YOU.

This is part of a series called Partners in Mission from the EBA.