Happy 140th Birthday!

Last Saturday was a special day for Welcome church, and not just because of the amazing Fun Day we had …

It was also our 140th birthday as a church!

In the 1870’s Woking was a fast growing town with a railway station and a canal – remember this was before cars existed and that homes did not yet have electricity. In terms of the church in Woking there was a small Methodist chapel, and a tin hut for the Anglicans to meet in. This tin hut was on the spot where Christ Church has now been built in Jubilee Square. 

In 1879 Rev. Edward Tarbox, from Addlestone Baptist Church, wanted to plant a new Baptist Church in Woking. Forty people attended an exploratory meeting in a house in Goldsworth Road on Thursday 18th September where it was agreed to go ahead.

The first Sunday morning and evening services of ‘Woking Baptist Congregational Church’ were held in a house in Goldsworth Road on Sunday 28th September, 1879. The Rev. Tarbox preached at both services, communion was celebrated and eight people were welcomed into church membership.

It was agreed on that first Sunday that Rev. Tarbox would become the Pastor and that Henry William Gloster would become the first Deacon. Henry was the Great Grandfather of John Gloster who is in our church today, and you really can see the family resemblance under that beard – they have the same cheeky smile. Sadly I have no photos of Edward, but if you do please let me have them!

 

Buildings

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Building No. 2: Goldsworth Road Baptist Church, 1906

At that first meeting it was also agreed to put together a committee to oversee buying some land and constructing a building for the church. It seems that God has been inspiring us to build and to expand since day one.

 

 

That building was completed within two years and the debt paid off a year later, which was impressive to have achieved from a standing start!

Sadly that building was found to be far too small, so the church immediately started work on a second building, which opened in 1886: Goldsworth Road Baptist Church.

Once again we outgrew the building, so in the 1920’s the church bought some more land, this time in Percy Street (which no longer exists) and built a third building: Percy Street Baptist Church.

There are people in our church who still remember that building with affection, having been saved there, baptised there, married there and more.

There is a great photo that was taken during the last ever service held in the Percy Street building, on the evening of 31st December 1976. As you can see, there is some great seventies fashion going on in that photo, and if you zoom in close you may spot one or two faces you recognise …

 

In October 1977 our church moved into its fourth building, called The Coign. We renamed this building The Welcome Centre when we became Welcome Church.

This building is now being redeveloped to provide us with new offices and to serve our children’s work, our youth work, our social action ministries and the wider community. On the land behind it we are also building a completely new 675 seat chapel. THERE IS MORE INFO ON THAT HERE.

We plan to start meeting in the new chapel from January 2020.

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Building No. 4: The Welcome Centre (formerly The Coign)

Telling our story

Some of us love history, some are less interested. Either way let me encourage you to buy and read John Gloster’s book: Church On The Move.

John wrote this for us. It tells our history from 1879 – 1999. It’s the story of our church, so if you want to know where we come from, read it. It’s available from us for £7.00 (or £8.00 on Amazon). Any profits will go into the Building Fund.

 

John has written another book too, Welcome Church Story, which brings the story all the way up to date; that’s available for £5. These books are a great resource and I am personally grateful to John for putting them together for us; they are precious. If you want to get hold of a copy of either or both, please email info@allwelcome.uk

Feeling thankful

I’m so grateful to all the people who have gone before us. I thank God that in 1879 He sent Edward Tarbox to Woking with a courageous plan to plant a new church. That took faith, risk, money, personal sacrifice, travel, tears, prayers and hard work … and here we are today. Over the years thousands of people’s lives have been transformed by this church and I am in faith for that to continue into the future.

And it’s so much bigger than just our church. New Life Church in Old Woking celebrated their 90th birthday this weekend. Our church planted that church on our 50th birthday – a great way to celebrate! And there have been other church plants along the way too, such as those in Guildford, Camberley and Chertsey. And many leaders have been sent out to serve in different places around the UK and across the world too.

Why bother? 

But why do it? Why plant churches? Why send people? Why go to all that trouble? Why pay the price?

Because we have hope in a God who saves.

Jesus gave his people a mission to take the gospel to all nations, and that includes here in the UK. We are not a social club, here to look after ourselves; we’re on a mission from God! We have a message to share with our town. We want to introduce people to Jesus. We want to see lives change and our community impacted for good through God’s grace in action.

Our new building is part of that mission and soon we’ll move in. We should be meeting there from Sunday 5th January, with our big launch Sunday on Jan 19th.

I believe we could see hundreds of people coming to our big launch; it’s our God given opportunity to create the most exciting Sunday morning we’ve had for years. This season of church life, is all about that; let’s do all we can to maximise this moment in our history; let’s maximise the opportunity this new start creates for the gospel in our town.

Onwards and upwards! Part 1: Team

We had a great ‘Vision Focus’ evening on Wednesday at The Coign Church. During the evening we highlighted a number of changes we’ve made and are continuing to make, and we also looked at our goal of helping people to …

“… Belong … Believe … Become”

Thank you for all the positive feedback on the evening

In this blog I want to mention three team changes:

Darren and Lois Forsdyke

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It’s a Petch – Forsdyke reunion!

On the evening it was my privilege to introduce Darren and Lois Forsdyke. Darren starts with us full time as Director of Operations from January 1st (although we might give him that day off as a Bank Holiday! 🙃)

Darren will be taking responsibility to lead and manage all the operational aspects of The Coign Church, which is a role we have a huge need for. He’ll also provide a ‘PA’ (Personal Assistant) function to me so I can be more effective in my role. So from January, or very soon afterwards, if you e-mail me … you’ll actually be emailing him! You have been warned …

Darren is taking on a huge role, and I know he’s well up to it; we worked together for the last 11 years! This will be a huge blessing for the Coign Church and we’re totally delighted to have this wonderful couple on board.

Nathan and Jules Silvester

During our evening we announced that Nathan Silvester will be leaving us at the end of this year. He and Jules are moving to Alton where he will be joining the team at Harvest Church in Alton as Associate Pastor.

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Nathan and Jules: we’re sure gonna miss ’em

Nathan has served us faithfully for more than nine years as our Youth Worker, and is ready for this new challenge. He will be missed! Harvest Church is another Commission Church; its good to remember that we are in mission together as a family of churches.

Their last Sunday at the Coign will be January 14th, so don’t miss the chance to say ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ to them both.

That leaves us with a question of course …

“What will happen with the youth work?”

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Ben and Nancy Martin – exciting times!

We answered that question too:

With immediate effect Ben Martin, who has been our children’s worker for a few years now, will be stepping up to a new role as

“Youth and Children’s Pastor”

This will be significant change of role for Ben and he will need to work differently; he’s also going to need extra operational support … so maybe Darren is arriving in the nick of time!

Ben will be working through lots of other people within the Church to make sure our children’s and youth work are as fantastic as they can possibly be. I know he has a heart full of passion fore young people and ahead full of exciting ideas.

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Becca and Ben Corbett – youthful always

Two very key players in all this will now be Ben and Becca Corbett, who will be taking on the primary leadership role for the youth in particular.

This is not an employed position, and they will be doing this as volunteers while still doing their day jobs. It was great to hear from Ben Corbett all about how they want to move the youth work forwards, building on the past and taking us into the future. Exciting times are ahead for our young people!

One more thing:

I want to say, “Thank you Coign Church”

Thank you for being receptive to change.

Thank you for your commitment to our future.

Thank you for coming on this journey together.

One thing is for sure:

We are a church that handles change well!

And in my next blog I plan to talk about where we’ve got to with our building plans, so look out for that.

Pioneers Wanted!

Since starting at The Coign Church I’ve been asked a lot:

“Are we going to change to one Sunday meeting?”

People have talked about the effort it takes to hold two meetings (9am and 11am) and about a desire to be ‘together’ as a church.

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Pick a time!

Let me answer the question: We are NOT going to change to one meeting.

The reason is simple:

we are too big to fit into one meeting

… which is a nice problem to have 😃

The only way to make it work would be to turn the hall around (long ways), put the band on the stage (which is very high) and stop having tea and coffee after our meetings ☹️☹️☹️

None of these changes would be good, and we would also be so full that it would be like saying (please forgive the strong language):

“We’re okay; Woking can go to hell!”

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Yes I do!

And that’s not who we are!!! So two meetings is here to stay. I’m praying for a third.

Here are some stats to consider:

  1. Our 11am meeting is smaller than our 9am meeting, yet still bigger than most churches in the UK – even most Commission churches
  2. The 9am meeting is pretty much full – which is unusual for a 9am meeting
  3. The vast majority of children and families come at 9am (90 – 95%)
  4. The majority of guests come at 11am (inviting guests for 9am on a Sunday is a tough ask)

So when families visit us at 11am – and they do visit us – they’re left wondering where the other families are! It’s a genuine problem and could even stop people coming back!

But most of all, 17 years of church planting has taught me this: Sunday morning is the most evangelistic moment we have! I have seen more people respond to the gospel on a Sunday than at any other time, so in summary:

11am on a Sunday is our most evangelistic moment each week …

… and we’re not maximising it … yet!

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(Booking not necessary 🙂)

If we were starting a church plant or a multisite, some of us would make a personal sacrifice. We would move to start the new thing, saying goodbye to our friends and putting our family into a new context. This is the sort of pioneering opportunity we now have for families at our 11am meeting.

Pioneers wanted!

Leaders wanted!

Trail blazers wanted!

We need to grow the number of families at our 11am meeting – which I say again is already bigger than most churches in the UK! It’s a great meeting already, with kids work and youth work running each week, but we need to increase that. Why?

For the sake of the gospel!

For the sake of our town!

For the sake of reaching new people!

We have an opportunity to pioneer something as a church; to grow something that could give us even greater gospel impact. After all – the church exists for the benefit of it’s non-members.

One more thing to be clear about:

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Great to see you!

We are not trying to diminish or minimise the 9am meeting

It’s a fantastic meeting! It’s great to come to our 9am meeting. For many people that is the optimum time to be with us, and guests come at 9am each week too.

Ultimately, whatever time works for you:

JUST TURN UP! ITS GREAT TO SEE YOU!

Come when you can – Come as you are

And some will read this and feel stirred to make a change, and if that’s you then I look forward to seeing you at 11am. And if we need to make a few adjustments to the kids work to make things work, we can do that.

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Any questions? Just ask!