Centenary Year

Centenary Year (1880 – 1980) History

One hundred years of witness in Plumstead; not an occasion to pass unnoticed or without time to ponder on past, present and, most important perhaps – future.
Those in the fellowship amongst the older sector will no doubt take the opportunity to reflect on the many changes that have taken place over the years, some for worse, but many we hope for the better of God’s service. They will remember East Plumstead as it used to be. They will have seen many folk enter and leave its doors, some to take up God’s service elsewhere and some perhaps never to enter another House
of God. But what influence did they carry with them from East Plumstead?
Others of us, including myself, being one of the youngest members of East Plumstead , can only remember recent years, but we can all take the opportunity of standing still and taking a look at ourselves today. As a body of God’s people, are we effective in our neighbourhood? Are we fulfilling our work for the Lord to the best of our ability, making use of our talents for His work? Is our building being utilised to its capacity? To most of these questions we would have to reply: “room for improvement” but surely that is the essence of God’s work- it is never done and until He returns we must always be looking for new ways in which to serve Him.

East Plumstead is not just a building – it’s a body of Christians who are working to further God’s Kingdom. The fellowship has been together for one hundred years and we look forward to many more.

On this, the year of our centenary, we praise God greatly for His wonderful goodness and grace.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY, GREAT THINGS HE HATH DONE!

The text for this book was researched and written specially f or centenary year by Nicola Welsh.

Beginnings

“February 10th, 1868- The founder and superintendent of the Children’s Mission, Plumstead, hired two rooms at a cottage in Robert Street for children’s services and night school – conducting the services Sunday evening, and Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
May- Started a children’s library. July- About 60 regular attendants
November- Compelled to give up rooms. Landlady expecting Brokers in.
December 5th – Held first service in another hired room at Robert Street. 72 individuals present, some sitting on the stairs- 11 being anxious enquirers.
January 20th, 1869- Received first donation (one shilling) towards the Mission House, afterwards built in Elm Grove Street. At this time the superintendent spent his Lord’s day thus-

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The Cottage where work started in 1868

“Prayer Meeting, Wesleyan Chapel: 7 a.m.

St. James Church Sunday School : 9.45 a.m.

    Children’s services- same school: 11 till noon.
    Thence to Church to sermon Sunday School again : 2.45 p.m.
    Open Air: 5.30 p.m. or singing in Mission Room at 6 p.m.
    Service at 6.30 p.m.
    Prayer Meeting: 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    Happy Days but hard work .

An extract from the records of Mr. W.J. Murphy.

The work in Elm Grove Street grew- with many young people giving their lives
In early 1870 a fund was set up for a new Mission Hall. On January 2nd, 1871 agreement to lease a site in Elm Grove Street was signed. October 14th, 1870 the foundation stone was laid.

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The Mission Hall – built 1871 enlarged 1874 and 1890

 

Owing to difficulty with the builder (one hundred years later we know how they felt!) the superintendent and friends had to finish the hall with their own hands and, I quote, “desperate work it was, often till nearly midnight in dirt and cold”.

This new hall was opened on February 13th, 1872 and Sunday morning and
evening services commenced, in addition to morning and afternoon Sunday Schools.

And so to work

In March, 1873 the superintendent sent to Spurgeons College, asking for a student to come and help, the work having become too large for him to cope with!
Rev. James Smith arrived to help and take services. In the same yea r the superintendent and fourteen other friends were baptised by Rev. Smith. The following week a Baptist Church was formed by Rev. P. Gast of Spencer Place Chapel with 40 members. Mr Murphy was appointed a deacon.

In December of that same year the church became divided over a misunder­standing and 40 members plus pastor left. Mr.Murphy remained with only 11 others to recommence his work.

The group which left increased under Rev. Smith’s ministry and eventually under the teaching of Rev. John Wilson became the Woolwich Tabernacle, at -one time one of the largest churches in the metropolis. Since then it has joined with the old Conduit Road Baptist Church to become what we now know as Woolwich Central Baptist Church.

Despite the exodus of most of his members, Mr. Murphy continued with his work with great success and in December 1874 two new classrooms were opened for children’s services.

In June 1875 it was felt that the Mission Hall was too small for the congregation, and when the final payment for the classrooms was made in 1876, a new fund for building a permanent chapel was begun.

In 1877 the Sunday School became so overcrowded that other premises were sought after, and in February 1878 a cottage in front

Mr W.J. Murphy, Founder, Superintendent 1868-80 Pastor 1880-1886

Mr W.J. Murphy, Founder, Superintendent 1868-80 Pastor 1880-1886

of the Mission Hall was hired for children’s services. Later that year, in May, four plots of land were purchased in Station Road (this was planned to be the site for the East Plumstead Tabernacle). Unable to build yet, a tent was acquired and in 1880 services were first held there.

In December 1880 the present church was formed. There were 46 members and Mr. Murphy- until then the superintendent and founder- was chosen to be the Pastor. Having lost one tent in a storm and then having hired one, a tent large enough to cover the congregation was purchased in June 1881. It was put up in Station Road and there housed regular services. Before the end of the year 43 converts had been baptised.

The following spring the tent was put up again and in October 1882, at the anniversary celebrations, there were 102 members, 65 of them having joined during that year, and 300 children with 16 teachers!

Over the next two years, in spite of problems with the rent and the “overtime”
at the Arsenal, which kept many away, the membership increased to 140.

In 1884 the Church and Pastor were elected to membership of the Baptist Union and London Baptist Association .The building fund rose to £219.

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Rev. Thomas Henson, Pastor, 1886-1896

 

In September that same year Rev. Thomas Henson was unanimously invited to take up the pastorate, which he did.

During the following year services were held at Raglan Hall, hired for the purpose. The fellowship felt the need for a more suitable place to worship. It was there­ fore agreed to withdraw the Building Fund money from the Kent and Surrey Building

. . 1896 saw the departure of Rev. Thomas Henson and, having been without a minister for some months, Rev. John Seeley was invited to preach and later to take the pastorate.

Society and erect an iron chapel in Station Road. This was opened on Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Day, June 21, 1887. It is interesting that shortly after this the Building Society collapsed. Had the money not been used, it would almost certainly have been lost for­ ever.

 

We continue to grow

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The Iron Chapel, erected 1887

The Iron Chapel housed a Baptistry and provided the sanctuary desired for worship . However, by 1890 it was obvious that it was not large enough to accommodate the large numbers of children eager to attend. It was decided to rebuild and enlarge the Mission House in Elm Street for the continuation of the childrens work. A loan was arranged both from the Baptist Building Fund and from the Sunday School Union.

The following year two missions were opened, one in Purrett Road and one at Abbey Wood. The latter proved unsuccessful and was closed but Purrett Road continued to experience God’s blessing.

 

Re v. John Seeley, Pastor, 1897-1906

Re v. John Seeley, Pastor, 1897-1906

. . 1896 saw the departure of Rev. Thomas Henson and, having been without a minister for some months, Rev. John Seeley was invited to preach and later to take the pastorate.

John Seeley was a popular choice and one of the ideas put into action during his ministry is still with us: in 1900 the monthly magazine was begun. 80 years of witness passed; we look for many more to come!

1903 saw a further mission being taken over, this time in Rippolson Road. Members again became restless with their venue for worship.

Feeling that a permanent and larger building was now needed, a new building fund was begun, soon raising £1,000. However, no suitable site could be found and in the end the money plus a loan of £770 was used to purchase four houses adjoining the Chapel ,these to provide the much needed ‘growing room’.

After 9½ years at East Plumstead, John Seeley moved on in 1906. During his ministry the membership had almost doubled and the Sunday School catered for up to 800 children!

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Rev. H.J. Warner, Pastor, 1907- 1920

In May 1907 Rev. H.J. Warner of Spurgeon’s College arrived to make East Plumstead his first pastorate.

The work continued and in 1908 the much-sought-after site was at last found . Through a friend of Rev. Seeley the freeholder was interviewed and agreed to sell the land for £2,300. The land, considering its size and position, was considered to be worth this amount . A grant of £1,000 was made to the fellowship by the Baptist Union 20th Century Fund. This money although for building was loaned for the purchase of the site at 2% interest until the building was completed.

1913 saw the marriage of Pastor Warner to Miss Daisy Dora Bartlett. They were married at her home at Sandown, Isle of Wight, and she was immediately welcomed into the fellowship.

In 1914 the church had resolved to begin building, hopefully by autumn. They did not anticipate the Great War , which was to affect -the lives of every member of the fellowship. They soon entered into the war effort, providing comfort s for soldiers and entertaining them on many occasions, and sending parcels to the troops abroad.

1918 is remembered as a year when a deaconess was called to join the work at East Plumstead. She was a highly trained sister who, having been a member at East Plumstead, left in 1913 to train at the Deaconesses Training Home.

During 1918 the work at Rippolson Road was transferred to V iewland Road Congregational Church. The hall is still there, but sadly the work is not.

1919 saw the return of many young men who had been demobilised. Socials were held to welcome them home, whilst those who had been lost were sadly missed, and the fellowship prayed f or comfort and renewal in their sacrifice.

In spite of the war, the fellowship reached its largest numbers ever. A member­ ship of 319 was recorded. Celebrations were held at the beginning of the year for the Sunday School who had their Jubilee, having been born in 1868. Annivers ary meetings were held, as well as a Young People’s Mission, a bazaar, a thank offering, a flower show, and an industrial exhibition.

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Rev. J. F. Matthews, Pastor, 1920-1923

Into the twenties …

1920, and after 13 years Rev. Warner moves on to Woodside Church, South Norwood. To follow in his path, Rev. John Matthews was invited to East Plumstead and began his ministry in September 1920.

 

I quote: “His preaching was original, intellectual and fearless and many were attracted to the services.” A house was purchased for Rev. Matthews and his wife at 60 Vernham Road. It cost £968.

Rev. Matthews was a keen worker in the community and in April 1922 was elected to the Woolwich Board of Guardians, caring for the needs of the poor. He was anxious for social reforms to be expedited and put his energies wholeheartedly behind the Labour cause.

In 1921, following a request for more discipline from the youngsters of the Boys Brigade, a committee was formed from the staff of the Sunday School to speak to the boys. Mrs Logan and Mr Rowe conducted the interview, and recommended to the church that a Scout Troop be formed to replace Boys Brigade. Mr Charles Meekums transferred to scouting, and Mr Mintern, later to become District Commissioner, was
the first scout leader of the 12th, Woolwich.

In 1923 the London Baptist Association took an interest in the building project. The Pastor was interviewed several times by the incoming President, Rev. R.S. Fleming, M.A., who also visited Plumstead and understood the need and opportunities for a church. Our scheme was adopted and given a grant by the Association . A building committee was formed in conjunction with representatives from the L.B.A. and plans were begun. In autumn that same year the fellowship suffered a division. An agreement was made on 22nd November and Pastor resigned. Some 55 members decided to leave and began to worship in a hall on Plumstead Common. A church was later formed and met at the green in King’s Highway. For some years the Lord’s work went on there, but some time later the hall was closed.

Building begins

Mr. H. Philcox was invited to become moderator. He accepted and was to hold the post for two years.

1924.July 18th- the church gave the go-ahead and Messrs F & T Thorne were to be approached to build the new premises according to the plans made out.

September 6th- Mrs. G.H. Cook performed the ceremonial task of laying the first sod.
On 3rd January, 1925 the memorial stones were laid by:

1880-1886 Mr William Murphy (Founder)
Rev. Fleming for L.B.A.
Mrs J. Pearson The Church
Mrs G. Barron The Sunday School
Mr J.A. Smith The Building Committee
Mrs Julyan in memory of R.H. Julyan
Mr A.J. Arnould in memory of loved ones.
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Cutting the first sod

Although without a pastor, the building work was eagerly encouraged, but meeting builders’ bills did cause some anxiety. The church was, in fact, completed and opened before a new minister was to take over.

At last, a house for worship

November 21st, 1925 – the prayers, hopes and efforts of many years at last brought forth fruit. The people of East Plumstead gathered to open their beautiful new church.

Mrs G. H. Cook turned the golden key and said: “To the glory of God, I declare this Church open for His worship and the preaching of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

A picture of the Church,  opened November 1925

A picture of the Church,
opened November 1925

The building in total had cost £15,500. After all gifts and grants had been totalled, the fellowship had £7,500 to find. Loans were secured to pay the balance and these were repaid over the coming years, the final payment of £749-12s-10d being made to Messrs F . & T. Thorne on 11th January, 1927.

On January 19th, 1927 Mr Thorne wrote to the church, thanking them for the final payment, and said : “While the contract has been a loss to us, we endeavoured to build for you a substantial and beautiful church, and we are sure that the result is gratifying to all concerned.” Those were the days.

 

Rev. J.B. Frame, Pastor 1925-1932

Rev. J.B. Frame, Pastor 1925-1932

I digress. The year is 1925, December 20th, and the Rev. J.B. Frame commenced his ministry at East Plumstead. He was much loved by the members and sadly during his t1me at East Plumstead his wife suffered a long illness and was called home on
18 January, 1929.

Rev. J.B. Frame, Pastor 1925-1932
In early 1926 women were given the right to vote on all matters,all former
restrictions being removed.

The Mission School at Purrett Road was closed, as other work now met the needs of the area. It had been in operation for 35 years, and a great work for God had been carried out.

 

 

 

At this point I should like to include an account of these early years kindly passed on to us by Mr Will Kent.

“…..In Mrs Barron’s Primary Class, and in the Social Club, one h Mr Swift, Mrs Purton and Will Wadman combining in the Sunday Bible Class to point the way from here with the emphasis on the Bible. What a day it was when I was not only introduced to “Tennis” but to ”The Scofield Bible” (still my choice) and the desire to know more. Tuesday nights were nights not to be missed. Conducted on the same high level as the young people’s fellowship. No-one went to sleep; such was the standard set that many of us, like Michael Angelo, were inspired to “make our own brushes”. The ground work of the saints penetrated to the Sunday School with a leader like Mr Rowe to look to, and where as teacher it was “alittle child” whom God used to ask “Have you been baptised, Mr Kent?” and which demanded the immediate answer “No, but I’m making plans for it”. The happy service was a dual·baptism, with Sidney Logan, lovingly conducted by Mr H. Phi/cox, the moderator. Another baptism about this time (1927) was outstanding. Miss E. Freeman was the only candidate, but the witness was wonderfully blessed when the invitation to others from the pool saw an older woman respond to be baptised there and then! One “oft repeated paper” we heard was on the subject of “launch out into the deep” and strange to tell, it took shape later in the lives of several of us. 1930 and
another chapter opens. The year when Albert Cassidy and Gordon Pearce together were called to Spurgeon’s College, and I to serve as a London City Missionary, followed a few years later by Frank Taylor also to Spurgeon’s College. Years later, in 1952, his brother, Harry was to join the ranks of the London City Mission.

So go my memories for the Centenary of this on-going Baptist church.”

Will Kent

In October 1927, 73 trees were planted in the church grounds, mostly in memory of loved ones by friends and members.

In 1929 hearing aids were installed in the Church and were most appreciated by
those members who used them .

1930 was Jubilee year- 50 years of work in Plumstead. The celebrations began
with the London Baptist Association holding its summer meeting at East Plumstead.

It was the first time the Association had held a meeting in Plumstead. The B.W. L. undertook the catering and tea was provided for 200 people. The Secretary of the Association, Rev. Ewing, wrote, saying:

“It was a pleasure to hold our gathering in your fine new sanctuary and to realise the spiritual prosperity of the church. God is indeed blessing your pastor ‘s work, and for this the Association shares your thanksgiving.”

In September 1930 the Prayer Meeting was changed from Saturday night to Monday, where it has remained to this day . 50 years on……

During the following years the work at East Plumstead continued much as we know it today.

Pastor, elders and deacons in jubilee year 1930

Back row: W.G. Killick, W. Kent, W.E. Gamble, S. R. Tydeman, G.E. Driver, M. Wadman,  W. Pearce, S. Logan, H. Tate Front row: T. Ellison, A.Swift, W. Rowe, Rev. J.B. Frame,J.A. Smith, A. E. Smith,  F. Challis

Back row: W.G. Killick, W. Kent, W.E. Gamble, S. R. Tydeman, G.E. Driver, M. Wadman,
W. Pearce, S. Logan, H. Tate
Front row: T. Ellison, A.Swift, W. Rowe, Rev. J.B. Frame,J.A. Smith, A. E. Smith, F. Challis

In 1931 Gospel Services were introduced and the fellowship decided that some redecoration was needed inside the building. The Pastor collected £45 for the
redecoration of the Church, halls and staircases. The Church was closed for a short time
whilst this work was carried out. The Girl Guides made a special effort to tidy up the church gardens. The open air work was thriving and continued to meet on Wednesdays during the summer period.

September 1931- Mr J .A. Smith retired from the post of Church Secretary after 30 years in the position.

September 1931 – Rev. J.B. Frame resigned from the ministry at East Plumstead and moved with his family to Scotland .

Rev. R.J. Park, Pastor, 1934-1943

Rev. R.J. Park, Pastor, 1934-1943

In March, the following year, Rev. Ronald J. Park accepted an invitation to take up the Pastorate of East Plumstead. The salary offered was £225 plus the Manse. His ordination took place on 17th June 1934.

There was still a large deficit on the Building Fund loan and the London Baptist
Association made a gift of £100 to the Church towards the balance of the loan. This
was received with grateful thanks and praise to God for His continued blessing. Also in that year the East Plumstead Review, as we know it, went into print.

September 1936- The Manse in Vernon Road is sold for approx. £600! Later that year, in December, a Bible Study on Wednesday evenings was begun.

June the following year- a new Manse was purchased at 22 Macoma Road. For
this purpose £200 was borrowed from the Baptist Property Board.

In November 1937 events began which were to result in the birth of a new fellowship in Welling. The London Baptist Association invited East Plumstead to take over the spiritual oversight of the proposed new church.

On 22nd October, 1938 the first stone was laid at the site of the new building on behalf of East Plumstead by Mr J.A . Smith. During the months that followed, East Plumstead had the privilege of watchi,ng over the work there. All applications for membership went through East Plumstead, with Rev. Park and the Deacons taking a large part in the work. On 16th April, 1939 15 members were received into the Welling fellowship ;the new work had really begun.

Soon there was too much work for East Plumstead to cope with and it was decided that an assistant minister would be invited to East Plumstead to take special responsibility for the work at Welling. £50 was set aside and a salary of £200 a year was to be offered for a five year term. In September, £1,000 was borrowed from the Baptist Building Fund on Welling’s behalf.

But sadly, on 3rd September, 1939, war against Germany was declared. This made it impossible for the proposed assistant Pastor to be invited, so Mr H. Edgeler, the Secretary of the North Kent Group District for London Baptist Lay Preachers was called to assist Rev. Park for two years.

There was much lands urrounding both buildings and the fellowship offered this to members and friends for the cultivation of vegetables during the war period. Although deeply affected by the world situation, the church continued to meet and to grow.

In June 1940 a Diaconate was formed at Welling, made up of three East Plumstead brethren and five from Welling. East Plumstead continued as overseer with authority to sanction all major decisions or transactions entered into by the new church.

In August, Mr Edgeler was called to take up the full time ministry of the work at a salary of £250 per annum.
February 1942- it was decided that the Girl Guides group in the church be disbanded and the girls be encouraged to join a clan of Campaigners- to be part of the fellowship.

“One of our older girls, Christine Middleton (now, of course, Mrs Christine Jelleyman) was in college at Cambridge and had joined a Clan of Campaigners there. The Lord used this contact to bring the movement to the notice of our minister and his wife, Rev. & Mrs Park . So the church officers considered the movement; they found it to be firmly based on the Word of God with spiritual objectives carefully defined and that through its various activities it sought to develop a personal faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and God. The movement catered for the physical and recreational needs of its members, and had a unique
method of marking by which no-one could gain any awards unless also attending Sunday School or Bible Class. They also found that all leaders (Chiefs) had to be born-again believers and had to sign a declaration of personal faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour.and Lord.

Children and young girls began to come along, mainly in the older section, 16 and over. One of this section’s first opportunities of public service was at the invitation of the Borough Youth Committee. They sent representatives to the reception committees at Bloomfield and Purrett Road Schools to interview girls of 17 or similar age. Three girls were recruited to our Clan from these centres. One of these three was to give many years as Chief in our Clan and further to our Lord. An answer to the prayers of Chiefs and Christian Clansmen who constantly prayed for these girls.

The Clan was dedicated on Sunday, 5th July, 1942. But as these war years were difficult with clothes rationing, it was a real family sacrifice to provide uniforms. And, of course, there were Camps, a reaping time for the year’s hard work. So often girls came to know the Lord during their time at Camp.

After the war years restrictions were lifted and the attitude of the girls in the clans changed with the general trend of

“I can please myself. It was a time of week by week plodding and bringing in new interests. T’he Junos Clan grew until numbers reached over sixty and had to be restricted for a while.

In June 1963 the Clans celebrated their coming of age with a week of activities. Years later the Clans suffered from leadership problems and numbers in the older sections dwindled. It was decided to close the Clans. Those that were left were encouraged to join Phoenix .

Hundreds of girls went through the Clans. Many came to know Jesus and continue to serve Him and many, we know, look back lovingly to the days they spent in the Clans.”

by Miss E. Arnauld

September 1942 saw the home call of one of the founder members, Mr J.A. Smith. He had been a member of East Plumstead for almost 60 years. During this time he was Church Secretary for 30 years and a member of the Building Committee for 44 years. By God’s grace, the liability on the last of the loans was cleared in the
week that he died.

In June 1943 Rev. R.J. Park moved on from East Plumstead to take up the ministry at Muswell Hill Baptist Church. By this time the church was responsible for oversight of a small Christian Bookshop on Plumstead Bridge.

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Rev. ArthurJ . Hal/worth, Pastor, 7944- 1961

In January 1944 events began which were to result in Rev. A.J. Hallworth commencing a long and abundantly blessed ministry at East Plumstead.The church wrote following a visit from him, inviting him to take up the vacant pastorate. In February 1944 he replied, declining the invitation. In March the church wrote again, asking him to reconsider and having taken time to seek God’s guidance , he finally wrote to accept and took the pastorate over from 1st October, 1944.

November 1945- we praise God for delivering us through the difficult war years. The Baptist Union opened a fund of thanksgiving for the reconstruction of church buildings lost or damaged during the war . East Plumstead, having sustained little damage itself, gave £100 of the Harvest Thank Offering to the fund, and by October 1948 had given a total of £260, £1 per person.

 

 

 

During the coming years, the Church continued to function with God’s blessing. Welling were to be congratulated in January 1947 for clearing the liabilities on their building loan.

“In February 1951 the Sunday School League was commenced, the children joining in the first part of the morning service and then going downstairs for many and varied activities.

Annual highlights were the anniversary, summer outing and christmas party.

The League grew in numbers and soon had to be divided into three age groups. Later we joined the Good News Transport Fleet of the British and Foreign Bible Society and our Good News ship, the “Raratonga”, was launched. We then renamed ourselves “The Good News League”.

Many will recall special highlights in our programmes. Some had current television titles, but adapted to teach a particular Bible truth. Boys and girls took part themselves and then we learned about the “Raratonga”, the island our ship was bound for with its precious cargo of Bibles and New Testaments.

We praise the Lord for the keenness of these boys and girls who came week by week and eagerly entered into all the activities, and for the adults who so faithfully gave their time, willingly came along for their turn on the rota.

The League continued until the Sunday afternoon school decided to co-opt the Sunday morning too, and later closed the afternoon and concentrated on Sunday morning.”

Miss E. Arnauld

“Junior Christian Endeavour commenced in 1952 under the leadf#ship of Miss J. Price and Miss J. Akers (now Mrs R. Miller), but of course leaders come and go, and it would be only right to mention those who were leaders until/laid down the office of leader in 1967; Mr J. Brandham, Miss M. Logan (now Mrs J. Brandham), Miss M. Gilder and Mr M. Mizen. Miss H. Jones took over the leadership from 1967 until the closure of J.C.E.

At the beginning J. C.E. numbers were small, but this increased over the years. Activities of J. C.E. were very varied, and as we encouraged them to take part, it was a thrill to see these members leading their own meetings, particularly at consecration meetings when they used to repeat the J.C.E. covenant undertaken by them. As you may know, Christian Endeavour was based on ideals, and this we encouraged by committee work, in which all were pleased to take part.

The highlight of the year was our anniversaries in which we took part with the Senior and Young People’s Endeavour. The society was affiliated to the North West Kent C.E. Union so that we could meet together with other J. C.E. groups during the year at rallies. There was great rivalry amongst other societies particularly in the Bible Knowledge quizzes, in which we were successful in gaining the cup on two occasions. It was worth all the hard work undertaken by juniors and leaders – at these rallies all junior societies would take part, which was very helpful to them. We also used to take part in the London Federation rallies held at Bermondsey Central Hall, which the juniors looked forward to, as we could meet other juniors from London.

Our missionary interest was very keen, as we kept in touch with the work of Miss M. Miller (now Mrs M. Martin) both in Japan and India. When Maureen was home on furlough she always found time to come and visit us, or the juniors would visit her at home in Ashridge Crescent, Plumstead. On one occasion, a missionary evening, we made a tape recording to send to her, to keep Maureen in touch with home. Making a tape recording in the late ’50’s/early 60’s’ was indeed an adventure.

There was a lighter side of J. C.E.; Christmas and anniversary parties, visits to the seaside with parents and friends. During the summer evenings we used to visit local parks.

This is just a snippet of J.C.E. but, at the same time, a very important part of the church life.”

Miss J. Price

And so to maturity

“It is very true that God uses different circumstances to bring us to Himself and that was certainly true in my case. A school-boy friendship, a friendly and welcoming group of young teenagers, the attraction of a particular young lady (no longer at EP!), a thriving Christian Endeavour Society, the ministry of the Rev.Arthur Hallworth, and ‘open-house’ at 130 Lakedale Road- all these combined over a three-months period in 1953 to convince me that Christianity meant far more than I had ever anticipated it could.

All these things were equally important in their own right, none moreso than the other, but perhaps the greatest lesson /learned in those early impressionable days was the benefit to be gained from sharing the fellowship of the Gospel in a Christian home where one was always welcome, at any hour of the day (or night). The years from 1953 to 1955 were years which shaped the whole of my future Christian service and Mr & Mrs Mace- Hardyman, the patient and long-suffering occupants of 130 Lakedale Road, spent many hours hosting myself and, it seemed, an endless multitude of other young people- never too busy to talk with us, laugh with us, counsel us, guide us, admonish us, instruct us, share with us, and pray with us (sometimes for us!).

A happy group of young people is always infectious and draws others in- that is how it was in our group in the mid-late 1950’s and it is a great encouragement to see now, some 25 years later, the next generation enjoying this same joy as they begin to share in their experience of Jesus Christ.

Just over two years after being introduced to East Plumstead, Her Majesty insisted that I played my part in our country’s national affairs by joining the RAF for two years. At about the same time in 1957 the Rev. Arthur Hal/worth was appointed Chaplain to the Royal Herbert Hospital and established an immediate rapport with many of the young servicemen under his wing. They needed little encouragement to share with us in Christian fellowship and soon became involved in an increasing number of our church activities. Yes, they came, they saw and they conquered – particularly where our young ladies were concerned, as two of our present church members (David Spurgeon and TonyBennett) will testify!

I can think of Sid Cook, Rex Cousins, Stan Hopkins, Anand Dalal, Brian Billington, David Stuart, Brian McGee, Mike Ball, Ron Leech, Derek Williams, Teddy Edwards and many, many more- such names should awaken some stirring memories in my contemporaries of that time who may read this booklet! I We were not without a share of fellowship with the nursing fraternity who also joined us as and when they were able – certainly not in the same quantity but nevertheless of parallel quality in their Christian experience.

How many really came and went in that 1957/ 1960 period I have no idea, but most tasted of the generous hospitality at 130 Lakedale Road, supplemented an already active group of young people, and had a profound effect on the witness and life of East Plumstead.”

Mr M. M izen

August 1954 saw the calling home of a faithful member of God’s team at East Plumstead; Mr Albert Swift died after 67 years of service for our Lord . He was to be sadly missed but the work continued. Two years later, in 1956, a roll of young disciples was begun so that the fellowship could keep up to date with the young peoples work. The Pastor compiled and kept the list and it was greatly used as a register for prayer.

By 1958 our building was beginning to be in need of refurbishing. A number of projects were begun, all of which were completed, and some of them are due to be done again! The renovations were to include:

  • The Griffin Road bridge
  • A new boiler A projector
    Rewiring the building
  • Redecoration of the Manse and Church
  • and an organ fund for repairs to the same.

During the following years the Church was to experience great sadness and joy on its Pastor’s behalf. Mrs Hallworth became very ill and was called home after much suffering.

God is good to His servants, and we were pleased to welcome Miss M. Luckham to become our Pastor’s wife and a Church member at East Plumstead in January 1960. They spent one happy and blest year with the fellowship and the following January announced their intention to move to Eynsford and take up God’s ministry there.

November 1961 saw the arrival of a Roneo duplicating machine and at last we were able to produce our own East Plumstead Review without the need of a printer.

It was decided to sell the present Manse at 22 Macoma Road and purchase a
house at 12 St. Merryn Close for the princely sum of £3,495.

Rev. William Rogers, Pastor, 1963-1967

Rev. William Rogers, Pastor, 1963-1967

The following year, in June 1962, Rev. William Rogers was invited to come to East Plumstead as a Student Pastor for one year. He would preach on one Sunday in each month and continue to study at Spurgeon’s College. At the end of his studies he would take over the full-time ministry of East Plumstead, at a salary of £625 plus telephone and expenses.

The new bridge in Griffin Road was opened in September 1962. Ten month_s later, Rev. W. Rogers was inducted into the Pastorate. On 17 January 1965_a V_aled_lctory Service for Alan and Margaret Butler was held as they prepared to go to N1gena w1th the Sudan Interior Mission to take over the running of a book shop.They left this country in February 1965 and spent three years in the work until July 1968.

Rev. Rogers was with East Plumstead until April 1967 when he left to take up God’s work at Acocks Green.

 

Rev. John Owen, Pastor, 1968·1971

Rev. John Owen, Pastor, 1968·1971

The following year, in July 1968, Rev. John Owen was inducted into East Plumstead and during this year the Sunday School celebrated its centenary, being some­ what older than the fellowship.

“The Sunday School Centenary was celebrated over the weekend of 17th February 1968.

A buffet tea was held on the Saturday and past officers, teachers and scholars enjoyed fellowship and reminiscences . This was followed by a Reunion which proved to be a great time of blessing. In addition to folk being present from near and far, greetings came, by post, from Jamaica Nigeria and from many parts of the United Kingdom.

A letter was read from the Rev. N.L Murphy. He was the son of East Plumstead’s first minister. He recalled how, when he left for Tasmania with his parents in 1886, he had been given a farewell present of a Bible by his teacher in the Sunday Schoo/_ He said he had always treasured it and used it until it fell to pieces. The Rev. N.L. Murphy was 92 y ars of age and was living at Taunton.

One of our teachers, who was pianist at the Centenary reunion, had a celebration that same evening as Graham and Pam Froud became parents of a baby girl- so we had a Centenary baby!

Mr R. Perrott of the Christian Police Witness Team was the Special Preacher for the day, and the children and young people took part in both the Sunday morning and evening services. During the special Sunday afternoon service a commemorative copy of the New Testament was presented to each member of the Sunday School. Help towards the purchase of these had been given by individuals in the Church.

The weekend proved to be a most successful and happy occasion – with friendships renewed, and grateful thanks being given to God for all that had been achieved, by His grace, during the previous 100 years.”

Miss D. Foster

Into the seventies …

In the summer of 1970 a one week holiday special was held at East Plumstead, 150 children attended of whom 90 had no previous connections with the fellowship. It was a lot of hard work but greatly enjoyed by all who took part.

In May 1971 Rev. John Owen left East Plumstead to take up a pastorate in Maesteg, South Wales, leaving with us the legacy of a pre-school Playgroup instigated in the fellowship by John and Anita Owen. The Playgroup now meets at the church each weekday during term time and provides a wonderful opportunity for witness to both parents and infants.

The same summer, Alan Butler, having come home from Nigeria and spent three years in Belfast studying at Irish Baptist College, was ordained to the ministry and took up deputation work for the S.I.M. in the West Country. When Alan had become a member of East Plumstead some years previously, he had indicated a desire to go into the ministry – an ambition at last fulfilled.

1972 saw a great change in the youth work of the Church. Campaigners, the uniformed clan for girls, had closed and although the Cubs and Scouts work for boys was thriving, there was no such meeting place for girls. The members of the fellowship came together to discuss the problem and after much prayer, thought and planning, a new youth work was born to work hand in hand with Sunday School and the already thriving Scout troop and Playgroup.Junior Christian Endeavour was closed and Phoenix was opened. This was an organisation in four sections:

  • Minors aged 5 – 7 years
  • Juniors 7 – 11
  • Intermediates 11 – 14
  • Seniors 14- 18

The group would meet on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings to pursue a number of project act1v1t1es, but w1th the aim of teaching salvation through Jesus Christ and at all times to encourage attendance on Sundays. It was an exciting time for the fellowship especially those who were actually involved in the work. The first meetings took place on 12th and 13th September 1972.

During 1972 the Church also purchased a new electronic organ.

1973 and we were to call the Rev. John Lawson, our present Pastor, to take
up the ministry at East Plumstead. He had a son and daughter growing up and felt that 12 St. Merryn Close was inadequate for his family’s needs. The fellowship considered the possibility of selling a piece of unused land behind the Church buildings and using the capital to extend the Manse premises. This was eventually carried out, but not without its dilemmas.

centenary-18

Rev. John T. Lawson, Pastor from 1974 on

 

On 27th April the following year, Rev. John Lawson was inducted as Pastor of East Plumstead. The Manse extension was not complete so he and his family moved into a property adjacent to and belonging to St. John’s Chapel in Earl Rise. The fellowship at St. John’s were kind enough to let us the property whilst the Manse was extended.

In November 1975 the land alongside the Church building was sold for
£5,995·94. The extension to the Manse totalled £5,690. The next project was to be the
installation of a central heating and hot water system in the property.

 

 

Conclusion or beginning

Looking back over the past 100 years, I have only been able to highlight a
few of the happenings within the life of the fellowship. What I cannot record are the day to day events that make up our Christian lives, the everyday things that keep the Church running and bring glory to God through the witness of the work.

Over the years our members have depleted but we are blest with a live and active fellowship, all of whom can work together for our Lord.

Whilst reflecting on the past, we would remember some of our brethren who served at East Plumstead for many years before being called to higher service:

Mr Rowe, Mr Williams, Mr Huckfield, Mr Basham, Mr Tapley, Mrs Puxty and, most
recently, Mr Norman Martin.

All these, together with many not recalled here, were dearly loved during their lives and are sadly missed since their calling. We look forward to meeting with them again and we will, of course, have much to share with them.

We have been privileged to have amongst us a student from Spurgeon’s College each year for the past three years, a practice which affords blessings on both sides of the arrangements, and one which we hope to continue.

And looking forward …

We have begun this Centenary year with a baptismal service. Four young people witnessed their faith in Jesus Christ to a full Church. This is the future of East Plumstead and what finer beginning to our celebrations could God have blessed us with.

We pray that the church will be filled many times during this year, that the membership will grow, that the future of God’s work in this little corner of the world will be assured.

We have much to praise Him for, and looking to our future we would seek His continued grace. Another 100 years? Who can say; only God can know our future .

Let us put our trust in Him, making this a year of rededication, of praise, of witness, of glory to God.

 

centenary-19

Definitely the beginning. A Picture of the Fellowship in Centenary Year 1980

 

Present diaconate

centenary-20

Pastor and Deacons from left, John Lawson, Derek Fishwick, Jim Gates, Michael Mizen, Tony Bennett and Bob Smith

Mr Sydney Logan, Life Deacon

Mr Sydney Logan, Life Deacon

Secretary :

Mr Michael Mizen

Life Deacon:

Mr Sydney Logan

Treasurer :

Mr Anthony Bennett
Mr Derek Fishwick
Mr Robert Smith
Mr James Gates
Mr Sydney Logan

List of ministers of the church at East Plumstead

1880-1886 Mr William Murphy (Founder)
1886- 1896 Rev. Thomas Henson
1897- 1906 Rev. John Seeley
1907-1920 Rev.Harold Warner
1920-1923 Rev.John Matthews
1925- 1932 Rev. John Frame
1934- 1943 Rev. Ronald Park
1944- 1961 Rev.Arthur Hallworth
1963- 1967 Rev. William Rogers
1968- 1971 Rev. John Owen
1974 on Rev. John Lawson

Moderators

  • Mr H. Philcox
  • Rev. J.M. Dunning
  • Rev. E.M. Kirk
  • Rev. R. Highcock
  • Rev.N.L. Stokes

Members who entered full·time christian service

MINISTRY: MISSIONARIES:
Alan Butler Betty and Cyril Burgess
Albert Cassidy Alan and Margaret Butler
Rex Cousins Derek Frost
David Jelleyman David and Christine Jelleyman
Cyril Nunn William C. Jelleyman (LCM)
Gordon Pearce Will Kent (LCM)
Frank Taylor Maureen Miller
John Brandham Harry Taylor (LCM)

 

LAY PASTORATES:

  • Tony Coates Cliff Kent
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