This brief review of the first 25 years of Broadmead Baptist Church is written with two aims. First, to record our thanksgiving to Almighty GOD for all His goodness in providing opportunities and premises in which to tell of His salvation in Christ Jesus, freely offered to all men, and in giving us, in His Holy Spirit, the strength and ability to work and witness for Him. Second, to stimulate the work of the Gospel in the future (not to direct attention back to past achievements or old friends). Many have been contacted — but many have not yet responded and many more have not as yet been reached. We praise GOD for what He has performed during an era of shrinking Christian influence and church attendances. Our prayer is that you will be encouraged as you read, either in your own work for Him or in your search towards Him.
Our story begins in 1946, when local residents started a Community Centre in the Pavilion in Chigwell Road. This had served the old Co-operative Wholesale Society sports field before being used during World War II as an auxiliary fire station. The Rev. Herbert Hunter, minister of Woodford Baptist Church, George Lane, suggested to the members of the Community Association that a Sunday School for the children of the new housing estate should be set up. He won their unanimous support.
All who knew him, have vivid memories of Mr. Hunter. Broadmead workers were fortunate in that they were influenced by his unshakeable belief in the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture, coupled with his lively and sometimes unconventional approach to evangelism. Mr. Hunter remained happily within the wider Baptist community while maintaining his right to speak out on deeply felt issues. He never forgot that whoever he met was a soul in need of a Saviour, even though he sometimes mistook a name!
The School duly began, staffed by young people from the church in George Lane and led by Mr. Tonge, an ex-paratrooper, and his wife, and later by Mr. Reg Dalton. It became part of the Church in May 1947. Mr. Dalton left in 1948 to train at Spurgeon’s College for the Baptist ministry, thus becoming the first of several teachers and pupils of the School to enter fulltime service for the Lord.
Mr. Denis Hull was then appointed Superintendent. Mr. Hunter’s initiatives found a ready echo in Denis Hull’s vigorous and unorthodox leadership. The School grew. Although finding staff was a problem, until the School began producing teachers from its own pupils, the Gospel was taught and demonstrated week by week to growing numbers of children. In 1950, Bible Classes for teenagers were started in leaders’ houses and the following year a week-night Young People’s Fellowship was launched in conjunction with Avenue Hall and held in their building.
The Pavilion, with metal sheets over the windows making it like an oven in summer and a black hole of Calcutta in winter, was not ideal. All the same, the maximum use was made of it and the School soon grew until we packed the Pavilion every Week.
At Anniversaries only the aged or privileged had chairs; the children sat on bedspreads on the floor and the teachers leant against the walls, whilst latecomers joined in from outside. Furthermore, sharing with the varied activities of the Community Centre produced some difficult but often hilarious situations. There were times when Anniversary practices became sandwiched between the Boxing Club and the Dancing Class! And one sticky situation when we turned up to an extra meeting to find someone had varnished all the benches!
The hope of a new building exclusively for the Sunday School was a continual encouragement to the teachers and the subject of most of their prayers together. The first practical step towards this was taken at the 1953 Prize-giving. Mrs. Hunter spoke of the School’s gratitude to the Lord for the Pavilion, but thought that they deserved better and larger premises and so presented Mr. Hull with the first £1 towards a new Church.
Now that the School had been given a lead, saving started in earnest The workers and their friends canvassed the whole district and presented to the Borough Council a petition bearing 1,000 signatures, requesting land for a new building. The Council were very helpful and in 1956 the present site of three-quarters of an acre was obtained with a grant from the London Baptist Association. During the Christmas holidays, teachers and pupils began the practical task of digging the foundations and drain trenches. By the time, the Superintendent who was also an architect, had designed the new buildings. In 1957, during the weeks from Whitsun to August, the prefabricated sections, with their aluminium foil lining, were assembled and the Broadmead workers themselves installed the electric wiring and carried out all the decorating and site works.
The building itself cost £7,524 with another £630 for furniture and fittings. £5,000 War Damage money was transferred by the London Baptist Association from the Major Road Baptist Church and the school, which now ran a full scale programme for adults as well as children, took on an outstanding mortgage of theirs of £2,100 in exchange. The balance was covered by annual carol singing, gifts from members and friends and from George Lane Church. It would be difficult and invidious to single out anyone, we thank God for you all.
An interesting point is that the War Damage money included architect’s fees. Mr. Hull put this money towards the purchase of his red Ford Minibus, which was literally worn out in the service of Broadmead!
The Pavilion which had served for so long almost did not survive the change. One Wednesday night the interior was wrecked by vandals and for two weeks it was impossible to meet inside. The Lord knew the difficulties and on both Sundays the sun shone and the School met on the field outside. ‘ By the following Sunday, the roof of the new Broadmead had been completed and the School had its first meeting in the new Church sitting on budding materials and ladders, whilst outside it was pouring with rain! This was just one example of the way our prayers were answered.
The official opening was on the 16th November 1957 with the Mayor and Mrs. Edwards present, although services had been held from the beginning of September, at the unusual hours of 10.30 a.m. and 7 p.m.
These times were found best as the congregation consisted mainly of Bible Class members and parents of young children. Within the new setting, children flocked in and the building was too small almost before it was occupied. Doubling up on classrooms and meetings in houses soon became accepted again.
Over the years many special and unorthodox meetings and campaigns were held that by all means, in the Lord’s will, we might save some.
There was, in every activity, a lively absence of tradition. The fellowship was therefore ready to consider new time-tables and fresh opportunities to reach children and young people with the Gospel — but never to experiment with expressions of faith or forms of worship. There was a sense of GOD’S grace and goodness…
A major re-organisation took place in 1959. Set in motion by two visits from American Baptists, it was based on their all-age Sunday School. Eight groups met at 10 a.m. before 11 a.m. Family Worship and three Training Classes before 7 pm. Evening Gospel Service. This enabled parents to take their children out for the day without them missing Sunday School, and also gave the teachers more time with their families. The doubts about this change were answered by the sight of crowds streaming along otherwise empty streets on Sunday mornings.
In all this, Broadmead had been guided by George Lane, but many felt that the time had now come for the Church to stand on its own feet. A Committee was appointed to draw up a Constitution and the experience and counsel of the George Lane members, Harold Ling, Fred Mountier and Douglas Mason, were greatly appreciated. Then, for the year’s trial autonomy from September 1962, the Broadmead members of the Committee were confirmed as the founder-deacons.
On the 12th October 1963, a crowded meeting gave thanks to God for all His benefits over the previous 17 years and prayed for His blessing on the future. A really effective production of the play ‘Gates of Hell’ brought home to all the need for holiness and obedience to the Lord’s guidance. The next day, Broadmead stood alone — but not alone — for the Church had the assurance of the presence of the Lord Himself.
During the previous months the Church had contacted several young men leaving Bible College, in the search for a pastor. Then we were put in touch with Rev. Leslie Drew, at that time minister of Colchester Road, Ipswich, by Dr. Dermot McDonald. The Church discovered Mr. Drew’s zeal and enthusiasm for Gospel outreach and issued a unanimous call which he accepted. On 2nd November, Mr. Drew was inducted as Pastor by Dr. McDonald, having left his previous church the week before, to move into the newly acquired manse. The Church also welcomed his wife, Nadine, who helped in several aspects of the Church, and their children Stephen (just 2) and Sarah (born at the time Mr. Drew first preached at Broadmead).
The Church grew and developed under Mr. Drew’s forthright preaching and stimulating teaching. The membership increased from 48 to 92 in the firstyear, the weekly offering went up again to an average of £55 and there were 27 Baptisms. What a year!
Despite ourselves erecting a large wooden hut (obtained free by Mr. Hunter) for teenagers and a new classroom block, some departments were still meeting in nearby houses. Further outreach took the form of a Mothers’ Club, a Women’s Fellowship, a Men’s Contact Club and a Senior Folks’ Club. A monthly Church magazine appeared printed on our own press, which also produced the publicity for the 1965 Wanstead and Woodford Tent Campaign, a mammoth task.
It has been a wonderful advantage to the fellowship to have its own printers. First, Sid Denayer (who later helped in the printing shop at Claybury Hospital) performed wonders on our own vintage press! Then, for many years Ted Gibson produced the church magazine and much more, on his own machine. Latterly, Brian Ball has taken on this role. We are grateful to you for all this work so freely and faithfully undertaken. (It has been estimated that if everything they had printed had been buried under the car park. Cliff Thrower would not have to keep on organising us to re-surface.
By the mid-60’s, the numbers attending services and meetings were becoming too large for the Church buildings and also the Church felt the need for a separate sanctuary, set apart for the worship of GOD and the preaching of the Word of God. The hall was used not only for Sunday ‘ services, but every weekday for Nursery School and most evenings for its various activities. This intensive use had advantages and we were glad that the premises which the Lord had provided were being fully used, but there were also drawbacks in the excessive wear-and-tear of the fabric and in the storing of club equipment in the place of worship.
Once more the Church looked to Denis Hull to prepare plans for the new buildings. The outline specification was soon agreed — a fitting sanctuary for worship, space to meet with friends and visitors and, above all, ample classrooms for the Sunday School and youth departments. The original idea of an adaptable building with moveable walls to allow part of the worship space to be used for classes, was soon discarded, as was another plan for accommodation at first floor level over the entrance hall.
The octagonal Church and games hall scheme passed all appraisals’ and was finally adopted at an estimated cost of £30,000. The Church then discovered countless avenues and offers of help. Alan Webb and Paul Dove were indefatigable in tracking down loans and grants from Baptist sources. The new Church plans had to be deposited with the Baptist Union. The Church decided to make this occasion a walk of witness — sponsored of course. On Saturday, 29th October 1966. the march of about 13 miles took place; several Baptist Churches were visited on the way and about 100 members of all ages arrived at Baptist House, led by a model of the new buildings on a suitably decorated cart, the work of Denis Hull and Roy Jackman. The march caused quite a stir through East London, especially when accompanied by the George Lane BB band.
As before, the foundations were dug by volunteers. A ‘sponsored dig’ was advertised throughout the L.B.A. area. Many came and even today when meeting people from other London Baptist Churches, someone may say ‘I helped dig your foundations’. One young man, Mike Grim wood, turned up all the way from America where he had met Rev, Dermot McDonald, to drive a mechanical shovel. Ken Sanders and others practically lived on the site. Leslie Drew installed much of the wiring, using his training and experience before entering the ministry. Gifts and offerings mounted up and in 1969 the London Baptist Association’s President’s Purse was added to them.
The differing outline and styles of old and new buildings gave Denis Hull the opportunity to provide a link wall, of solid concrete, sculptured to show in three panels, Creation, Salvation and Glorification, reading from left to right as you look at the Church. He undertook this task himself, cutting out the mold from enormous slabs of polystyrene, and fitting glass and bolts. Into this, specially tinted, ready-mix concrete was poured. Once the concrete had set, the idea was to burn off the mold; the resulting blaze was spectacular and left a very pleasing patina, although the residual polystyrene kept volunteers busy scraping it off by hand! Despite several scares, the building was ready for the opening on June 28th 1969.
Another phase of Broadmead’s life and witness commenced and nearly £12,000 had been given towards the cost of the building. The Rev. Gordon Snelling, President of the London Baptist Association, conducted the opening and Dedication Service for the new Church building and the Rev. Lewis Misselbrook brought the message.
Early the following year, Leslie Drew announced that he had accepted a call to a pastorate at Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada. This was a bombshell to the congregation but Mr. Drew felt that his work at Broadmead was completed. So much had been accomplished. The Lord had given him special gifts of enterprise and leadership. His forthright and faithful preaching of the Gospel and his practical gifts were blessed greatly and he was used of the Lord to motivate the whole fellowship to undertake enterprises that stretched their efforts.
Mr. Drew’s concluding advice was to pray and seek for a Bible teacher who, under God, would build on the foundations already laid, by deepening our knowledge and experience of Christian things. Alf Brown, the Church secretary, undertook this duty. The rest of the diaconate also helped in pastoral and administrative duties. An interregnum is often a period of stagnation or even decline. Despite several removals from the district for a variety of reasons, the membership kept together and the work of the fellowship continued. The aim was never to put off Gospel work until a new minister came and thus by seeking to expand, the Lord kept us outward looking and active. New activities were explored; Adventurers were started and continue to this day.
The prayerful search for a new pastor was pursued. Once again Rev. Dermot McDonald was approached and the Lord led us to contact James Wood of West Street, Crewe. After prayerful consideration, the Church gave him a unanimous invitation to the pastorate. We rejoiced that he accepted.
Mr. Wood was accompanied and has always been faithfully supported by his wife, Ailsa, and his sons Jonathan, Marcus and Timothy, who were , thus obliged to change schools and friends at a crucial time of their lives.
October 2nd saw the induction service conducted by the Rev. John Waterman. This was a great day and the large contingent from Crewe testified to a warm work for the Gospel and the love in which the Woods were held. Truly, the Lord had again shown His goodness in bringing forward the right man for the time. In the ensuing years, the patient and careful teaching of the whole counsel of God brought its fruit in the saving of souls and their building up in the knowledge of the Lord.
Numbers have continued to grow, so that now 200 to the morning service is not unusual and the midweek prayer meeting averages an attendance of 50. There has been a steady growth too in those ready to share in the various aspects of service within the church, although, perhaps, not as many as we would wish! Financially, the Lord has met our needs through the generous giving of His people. It was a joy in 1977 to pay off the outstanding debts on the Building Fund, although the circumstances were tragic. The final payments came as a thank-offering for the life and work of Denis Hull, who died very suddenly in the July of that year. It is some compensation that his sons are now active in working at Broadmead amongst children and Covies, and that Marion Hull’s home is still being used for meetings.
As a means of deepening the ties of friendship and fellowship between people at Broadmead, the suggestion of a Church Week-end was brought forward. There was an enthusiastic response and in December 1974 about 90 Broadmeaders of all ages journeyed to High Leigh. Young and old got to know each other, enjoying together the games and meals, and helped by a series of fruitful Bible sessions ably led by Rev. Malcolm Evans. Since then, High Leigh week-ends have become a regular high spot of the Church year, with over 100 attending most years, leaving a skeleton staff to carry on with the Sunday School and youth activities and with Mr. George Smart usually taking the morning service.
In later years, Broadmeaders responded to Mr. Wood’s invitation to participate in the Sunday services in times of open prayer or by contributing a verse. This proved helpful and constructive at a time when some Churches were subject to pressures to make worship free and formless and others found worshippers leaving because they could not find any means of expressing their love and joy in the Lord.
Space does not permit the inclusion of detailed accounts of Broadmead’s participation in the Tent Campaigns of 1958, 1962 and 1965; of the Great Missionary Exhibition of 1961 (when 20 societies were represented and the Mayor came!); of the visits of the London Emmanuel Choir in November 1973 and January 1976; of the tears of joy at a midweek meeting in November 1973; of the introduction of elders to share in the pastoral care of the fellowship (Mr. Dick Little in 1975 and Mr. Chris Frohwein in 1977); of the Frugal Lunches which started in 1974 as an opportunity for both giving and sharing; of the Great Flood in November 1974, when the overflowing Roding drove us back to George Lane for a week-end’s gracious hospitality; of the Anniversaries; of the 174 baptisms since April 1958; so the rest of the Broadmead Story will simply refer to some of the main highlights and developments.
While the Sunday School was still meeting in the old pavilion, a special collection was made to buy a lamp for Mr. & Mrs. Cyril Davey, who were missionaries in the Congo. This enabled them to commence evening services! The spirit of this purposeful giving was revived in 1971, when the Sunday School decided that all the children’s offerings would be put towards special missionary projects.
The first was a BMS scheme to help get children to school. Another was the purchase of a Honda for a Nigerian pastor — only a cost of £100 in those days! Many other projects have followed, all helping to foster missionary interest in the children.
The teaching work of the Sunday School has continued, with all the usual anniversaries, parties and outings. Recent years have seen stronger bonds of unity develop amongst the staff, both within and between the departments. Preparation meetings have become a regular feature’, and bimonthly combined meetings, quarterly socials and prayer together before Sunday School each week have all contributed. As the work at Broadmead began in a cricket pavilion, it is not to be wondered at that many opportunities have been taken to reach out to local children, in addition to the regular and faithful work in Sunday classes.
First of all, there have been Holiday Bible Clubs, utilising school holidays to fit the equivalent of several months’ teaching into one week. The initial effort in 1958 involved almost everyone connected with the Church who was above Sunday School age, about 40 people. Sixty children attended,most of than every day. in succeeding years, numbers rose; by 1964,160 came. The mornings were spent in Bible stories and projects and the afternoons in outings or games. One year the workers made a film, featuring the children. Another year the leaders’ experience went into assisting in the production of a CSSM Handbook on Holiday Bible clubs. These Holiday Bible Clubs have continued almost every year either at Easter time or in the summer. On occasions, others from outside Broadmead have been involved. In 1973, John Challon brought a dozen young people together from all over the country for the Holiday Bible Club and special meetings; apart from obvious gains to the Sunday School that year, we lost one of our young men (Peter Danzelman) as he married one of the team and they settled in Chelmsford.
Another great effort took place in 1975 when Ralph Chambers and Irene Wardle brought the Children’s Christian Crusade to Broadmead. Over 400 children came to their inimitable style of meetings and about 70 workers were involved. Many contacts for Sunday School were made. They came again in 1978 and to help maintain the contacts made, John Savage and several staunch helpers commenced a meeting on Fridays called ‘Discoverers’. This was run on Children’s Christian Crusade lines and it was hoped to reach children who could not or would not come on Sundays. Although numbers have fluctuated, this has always proved worthwhile. In 1979, a week of meetings was held under the name ‘Discoverers’ Special. While leading Discoverers and using the experience, John has been conducting special children’s meeting in other Churches, usually where there was no Sunday School and in some cases this has led to children’s work being commenced. A contact at Capenwray Hall led to participation in a mission in Edinburgh and this indirectly led on to two weeks of children’s meetings at Churches in Houston and Huntsville. All fitted in with a full-time job and a family!
Further avenues for Gospel outreach opened up in 1978, with the arrival at the Church of Beryl Rawlings (now Mrs. Owen), a Child Evangelism Fellowship worker for North East London. This afforded opportunities for our young people to take part in five-day clubs during the summer. Also a Good News Club was started on the Broadmead estate, thanks to the kind offer of hospitality by Mrs. Thorogood, by Mrs. Evelyn Brown, Mrs. Jenny Browne, and Tim Hull. Bible stories were carefully taught to varying numbers of children from September 1979 until July 1982, when the Thorogoods moved house. Other accommodation is now being sought. Brian Ball, the Sunday School Superintendent, is now on the local Committee of Child Evangelism Fellowship.
Since January 1965, the Church has run a very successful Nursery School, led by Mrs. Joan Harvey, NNEB, staffed mainly by Church members, approved by the authorities and catering for 40 children daily. This was originally started because Mr. & Mrs. Drew with a young family, needed a good nursery school run on a Christian basis — and even looking to the future leading on to Christian primary and infants school education — an aim not yet realised.
Immediately on opening, the school encountered a measles epidemic and just managed to survive it. Since then, more than 1,700 children have passed through the school, providing a very worthwhile contribution to the neighbourhood. Many appreciative parents testify that Broadmead is better and more widely known by its Christian Nursery School than in any other way. In particular, the school has been able to help in the development of several disabled children.
Not only has the nursery school helped the local community, but it has also been the means of introducing from time to time, children into the Sunday School. There is regular contact with parents, and occasional coffee mornings for mothers have been held. For several years, girls have come from local schools as part of their CSE studies and this year, for the first time, a boy came, and was a great success with the children. We realise the passing of time when we record that some of the first pupils, including Martin Brown and Stephen Drew, are now married!
By 1955, it was realised that something more had to be done for teenagers. Some joined Brigades or other uniformed groups. In order not to compete with George Lane activities, it was decided to introduce Boy and Girl Covenanters, a non-uniformed organisation based on Bible Classes and clubs. These became very effective in holding and attracting teenagers. As there was no room in the Pavilion, Sunday meetings took place in leaders’ homes, the boys at the Browns’, the girls at the Hulls’ and then at the Littles’. The club had to wait for the new building, and even then, on Sundays, the boys met at the Denayers’ house in Brackley Square. Numbers rose and fell over the years, with varying success in Scripture competitions and at various sports. For older members, there were two Youth hostelling trips to the Lake District, and both boy and girl Jucos attended house parties. Latterly, the leaders have organised a series of very successful house-parties and these have proved a great blessing in many ways, as group members got to know the leaders and some came to know the Saviour also.
Over the years, those too old for Covenanters have been offered opportunities to enjoy one another’s company in a variety of guises, sometimes as a YPF, or ‘Over 18’s Club’. One connecting link for many years was the monthly squashes held in the Hulls’ house. John and June Bennett are continuing to meet this need by arranging informal meetings on Saturday evenings for the 18’s to 30’s.
THE MINISTRY BEYOND BROADMEAD
From the very beginning, Broadmead has sought to give systematic support to those whom the Lord has led to work for the Gospel throughout the world. In some instances, we have had the privilege of sharing in the very earliest Christian experiences of those who have gone. We are grateful to GOD for this, and only wish their numbers had been greater. Often we have some prompting to refocus our eyes on the Lord’s work in other places, near and far, and we need frequent reminders of our responsibility to pray and to give our money, as part of the support for those who have gone.
Bruce Dipple was the first Broadmeader to enter full-time service. He was brought to Covies by a friend, Colin Walker, who tragically died soon after from cancer. Bruce was converted at Broadmead and was active in Sunday School and Youth work until he left for two years’ training at BTI Glasgow. In 1966 he joined Ambassadors for Christ International and this led on to the Baptist ministry in Australia and then, in 1977, with his wife Sylvia and growing family, to service in Niger with the Sudan Inland Mission. He is now principal of the Bible College in Niamey, where leaders and pastors for several French-speaking West African countries are trained.
Eric Skinner came to Broadmead from George Lane as a teenager.
His call to the ministry was faithfully pursued, overcoming several obstacles. After training at West Ham Central Mission and Spurgeon’s College, he was inducted to the ministry at Caine in 1971. After several years there, he undertook further training in social work and is now pastor of Walmer Baptist Church.
Janet Hellens was already a Christian and conscious of a call to missionary work in South America when she first came to Broadmead. Following training in nursing, she went to Peru with Regions Beyond Missionary Union and eventually reached her aim of working for the Gospel amongst the Quechuan Indians in 1972. Unfortunately, ill health forced her return to the United Kingdom in 1974, but the Lord opened up other fields of service for her. After marriage to Joe Campbell, who was soon to commence work at the YMCA in Belfast, she has been helping in the TEAR Fund office and raising a family. The connection with RMBU continued when Mr. Wood was invited on to the Mission’s Home Board in March 1975.
Philip Jackman, who had been through all the departments of the Sunday School and Covenanters, was greatly missed, especially for his fine playing on the organ, when he went off to Southampton University. There he was contacted by Campus Crusade for Christ. After graduating and with his wife Jane, he commenced working with Campus Crusade for Christ amongst students, first at Leeds and later at Newcastle.
(It is timely to record our debt to those who have shared in the task of leading the musical ministry at Broadmead. Besides Philip, Reg Stroud has performed prayerfully and thoughtfully on both piano and organ: over the last few years Marian Hull and Ken Symes have shared the duty at the organ, and many others. Marian Stroud and Pauline Moore have provided useful piano accompaniment.)
Carol Griffiths came to Woodford with the Missionary Aviation Fellowship Head office and joined in membership in 1976. She later felt a call to offer her secretarial skills for work with Africa Inland Mission and commenced a two-year contract in November 1979. While working in Nairobi at the H.Q. of the Africa Inland Church, Carol has been totally involved in die life of a local Church. A new phase in her life will begin in October this year when she marries Andre Fischer, who is at present working with TEAR Fund in Northern Kenya.
Broadmead’s missionary horizons have been widened over the years, as the Lord has brought us into close contact with some already involved in missionary work.
Roland and Jean Knight worked with Missionary Aviation Fellowship at Dodoma in Tanzania, where Roland was responsible for the maintenance of mission aircraft and Jean looked after their two boys and balanced the books! While training at Crewe with RR, Roland attended Mr. Wood’s former Church and later, because his furloughs were spent partly with his sister who then lived in Woodford, he attended and in 1976 joined the fellowship at Broadmead.
Valerie Hamilton works in Bangladesh with the Baptist Missionary Society. She was introduced to the Church by Mr. & Mrs. Wood and since December 1972, we have been supporting her in her many and varied tasks, in prayer and financially.
Michael Snelling, who served with his wife and ‘family in Colombia, grew up in our “parent church’ at George Lane. After some years’ pioneering work in Colombia, he returned to England to gain further qualifications in order to work amongst students. During his training and while awaiting return, Michael preached at Broadmead and we got to know him better. Eventually, the Colombian authorities allowed him to return but not to teach and he has been pastoring a church in Bogata.
Victor Lambert came from Mr. Drew’s home Church at Edgware, under the Baptist Union’s ‘Time for God’ scheme for young people between school and university. Victor helped with visiting and children’s work. He lodged with Church members and his quiet and sincere testimony was greatly appreciated. He also spent some time helping at the Lighthouse Baptist Church, Bow. Subsequently, the Lord led Victor, via some years as a lay pastor while working in DHSS, to the full-time ministry at Thamesmead.
In 1972, a young couple arrived at the Church from teacher training in Liverpool. Ray Tibbs had been converted there and after marriage, was working at the Scripture Union Bookshop while Margaret was teaching in Walthamstow. He possessed many gifts; in 1973 he was script-writing for LBC’s Sunday School of the air (the Oranges and Lemons Club) and subsequently worked as Extension Secretary for the Sudan United Mission. Answering a call to the ministry, he attended the London Theological Seminary as one of their first students and is now settled at Ramsey.
Trevor Reynolds joined the Church in 1972 after legal training at Southampton University and later qualified as a solicitor. He responded to the call to the ministry and after training at Trinity College, Bristol, he is now assistant pastor at Mount Pleasant, a large Baptist Church in Swansea.
Chris Frohwein, a London City Missionary, joined the Church in 1974. He was, at that time, working amongst Eastern European seamen in the London Docks but is now missionary to London’s Underground workers. The Church was fortunate in that not only was he able to spend time helping in pastoral and outreach visiting locally, but also to involve others in visiting. During 1979 about a dozen Church members took part in regular calls, with London City Mission literature, and valuable contacts were built up as the Gospel was taken into local homes. This continued until late 1981 when (taking up a practice from the late 1950’s) monthly leaflets, written by Alan Webb, were distributed to about 1,200 homes. The follow-up to this was a personal call to every house, over the Easter period 1982, arranged by Bob Penhearow, who had become a Christian only a year or so before. Several folk were clearly attracted by the Gospel, and so the work of sharing the Good News of Salvation goes on.
As this story is written, two more young men are preparing to commence training. Their future paths present an interesting contrast. For one, the Lord has shown clearly the way ahead — Keith Ferdinando, a teacher, is hoping to lecture in a Bible College in East Africa, after obtaining further qualifications at London Bible College. The other. Bob Penhearow, although not yet knowing in what sphere he is to serve the Lord, has been accepted for a course at the Baptist Seminary in Toronto.
In addition to those who have left to enter fulltime Christian work over the years, the fellowship has had to say farewell to many other members and friends who have moved away on retirement or because of jobs or housing or even emigration! From the Denayers (senior and junior) to the Boormans who moved this year, we have lost something with every departure. We pray each of you will have taken with you the experience we have shared in serving the Lord together at Broadmead. We like to think of this being reproduced in countless other Churches wherever you have settled. GOD Bless you, each one!
WE’LL PRAISE HIM FOR ALL THAT IS PAST…
Twenty-five years is not long measured against eternity — even against average lifetime. But we now see a solid witness to the love of God where, 25 years ago, there was just a muddy space. We have known many in this time respond to the Gospel and even more worship and witness in these buildings.
We hope this record of the Broadmead Story conveys to you an impression of Rev. Herbert Hunter’s vision, Denis Hull’s energy and the faithful preaching of the Pastors, Leslie Drew and James Wood. We conclude this review in praise to Almighty God, who works all things to accomplish His will and to the gracious Saviour who works through the Holy Spirit.
AND TRUST HIM FOR ALL THAT’S TO COME
Our looking back is only to assist us in looking forward. We are conscious that the work must continue. We trust that the God who has blessed in the past, will continue to do so in His grace and as we seek His will in faith and obedience and love.
It is our prayer that all our readers are able to join us in thanks to GOD for His saving and keeping power and that through these pages, you will have seen His goodness in guiding a group of ordinary Christians.
A NEW CHAPTER
In 1994, following ministry at Denmead BC, Hampshire and Ilfracombe BC North Devon, Ken and Jean Hyde felt the Lord calling them to a new situation. So they travelled to London for a weekend of questions, preaching and warm hospitality at Broadmead BC.
To their surprise and delight the church invited them to ministry and were even willing to wait a year! (their youngest son was taking his GCSE’s).
They knew the church had experienced a difficult time for a number of years and during the waiting period, a painful situation resulted more members leaving.
On the 15th July 1995 Ken was inducted to the Pastorate of Broadmead. Not unexpectedly, because of all that had happened there were feelings of hurt, despondency and disappointment and everyone’s faith had been tested by events.
We discovered faithful, hard working and committed Deacons, Members and Attenders and an amazing Church Secretary, Brian Ball, who became my much valued prayer partner.
Broadmead had a spacious suite of buildings, a prominent main road situation, a thriving Pre-School serving the local community and no immediate financial concerns.
Together we all committed to worship, witness, work and pray. Gradually, people began to see that God still had plans and purposes for Broadmead. He did love us and wanted to bless us so we could bless others in the community as we shared the Good News about Jesus.
These years saw baptisms and growth, numerically and spiritually and the congregation gradually became more representative of the community in which it was placed.
Dennis Hull, a church member and architect who designed and helped build Broadmead, described it as being a “Community Church For All”. We felt strongly this was Broadmead’s primary purpose.
So in addition to the Pre-School, the Fellowship encouraged all kinds of community and family groups to use its premises. They soon realised, the buildings needed updating and this would be expensive. So they started a building fund and prayed a lot.
The Lord answered our prayers in a very unexpected way. On the 30th October 2000, the River Roding flooded the immediate area including our church, causing extensive damage. We were insured, but should we just reinstate or in faith take a big loan and update?
An open church meeting unanimously decided to update and take out the loan from the LBA.
Later on, after discussion and much prayer, in faith, the church decided to use most of the Building Fund money to pay off the interest free part of the LBA loan. All agreed to have a free will thank offering on Harvest Sunday 2000, themed “Not Equal Giving but Equal Sacrifice”. Incredibly the church raised over £82,000 enabling us to pay off the loan and still have some money in reserve!
Again, Broadmead saw spiritual and numerical growth and were blessed with baptisms.Broadmead’s generous heart enabled continuing financial support to Christian work overseas and in the UK.
Jean and Ken were blessed in so many ways, but especially with the friendship of so many wonderful Christians. They said, “We are so grateful and thank you all. We feel very privileged to have served as Minister and wife for 16 years and we pray the Lord’s richest blessings will continue to pour on His church at Broadmead.”