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.

Saving Lives, Helping The Poor

On Sundays June 9th and 16th we will be having the final Gift Days for our New Building Project. We are going to give away a tithe (10%) of what we collect to a project working with the poorest of the poor … and the good news is that every gift we give to them on this occasion can be doubled!

Child Survival

As a church we are already sponsoring many children in Togo through Compassion UK, and it’s a country with a lot of needs. One of the big challenges is around infant mortality and health in pregnancy.

At present in Togo:

  • 1 in 20 babies die before their first birthday … and most of these are from preventable causes
  • 1 in 58 women also die

These are shocking statistics, and Compassion are working to change this though their Child Survival Projects (CSP). These CSP’s are run by local churches in Togo. They work with mothers throughout their pregnancy and for the first year of the child’s life to provide:

  • Medical support
  • Vaccinations
  • Basic provisions – including safe water, hygiene kits and nutritious food
  • Education – on how to care for a child – remembering that many of the mothers are little more than children themselves
  • Skills training – to teach work skills that can help them earn a living
  • Spiritual support and mentoring

These projects are so important that for a short while they are receiving matched funding from our UK Government.

Our donations to this vital work (before Gift Aid) will be matched, pound for pound, by the UK government

So what we give to them will be doubled

This means that if we hit our target of £300,000, and we pass £30,000 on to Compassion, it will be doubled to £60,000 – enough to fund a project for several years.

Jesus told us that he was sent to bring good news to the poor. Let’s join him in that mission as we come to our Gift Days.

If you have any questions, please do ask.

Welcome Works – caring for the poor

We launched a new initiative at Welcome Church on Sunday. We’re calling it Welcome Works.

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When Jesus started his ministry he described what he had come to do like this:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim GOOD NEWS TO THE POOR.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Luke 4v18-19

The poor includes those who are “spiritually poor” – people who do not know God – and it also includes those who are physically poor in all sorts of ways – people who are in need, or are sick, or in prison, or oppressed, or in debt, or stuck in addiction – they all matter.

God cares about the poor and those in need.

The Bible is full of verses describing our call to remember the poor. Here are just a few sample verses, picked from among many:

  • “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” – Psalm 82v3-4
  • “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done” – Proverbs 19v17
  • “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern” – Proverbs 29v7
  • “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” – James 1v27  … an interesting verse in which God seems to give as much weight to caring for the poor as he does to personal holiness

Every Christian and every church has a part to play in caring for the poor …

… so as a church we’re launching a new approach to this area of our church life and we’re calling it Welcome Works. To support this initiative a whole new section of our website has now gone live and you can access it by clicking here.

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Welcome Church is involved in many different projects that aim to bring help to those in need in our community and further afield. Welcome Works is the unifying banner that pulls all of these together.

There are some amazing things going on among us! Check out the website to see what they are. Some of these things we do as a church, some we do in partnership with other churches or agencies and some are done by individuals as part of their personal calling.

There is a lot going on and each of these things matter.

There are too many things being done to list them all, but we’ve brought a number of them together under the title ‘Welcome Works’. We are doing this to create a context where we can give greater profile to them. We want to create a context where we’re making it easier for people to get involved or to seek help from them.

We want to create a more coordinated approach to those we help, for example some people may need help from more than one ministry. We want to enable the sharing of resources – people, skills, facilities, courses. We want to work more smoothly alongside other agencies or churches. This will also help us to give better oversight and support to the people who serve in these different ministries.

These areas of our ministry are central to the heart of Jesus so they must not be on the sidelines of our church life.

We want to talk about them, embrace them, give profile to them and encourage everybody to get involved in them. Our launch of this initiative also coincides with a whole preaching series about God’s heart for the poor. You can hear the first one by clicking here.

During the series we’ll also hear from some of the Welcome Works we are involved in as a church. This week we heard about some of the work we do in two local prisons. Is that where God wants you to get involved?

As we go through this series, let God speak to you. Keep listening to him carefully each week. He may lead you in a direction that could surprise you and set you on an adventure!

 “Spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” 

Isaiah 58v10-11

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!