Our Welcome Church Story

Our church has a fantastic back story, which has been written across a time span of 139 years. It was founded in 1879 by Edward Tarbox who seems like a fairly impressive guy to me; a heroic ‘wall-builder’ in God’s Church.

A few years ago John Gloster wrote a history of our church, covering the period from 1879 to 1999, and it makes fascinating reading. This year he has produced Book 2, and it looks like this:

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In this new book John traces how God has grown Welcome Church from its early roots as Woking Baptist Church. He recounts how God has led us from the early days, on through the Coign Church years until today, when more than 600 men, women and children are sharing His ‘Welcome’ with the Woking community and far beyond.

Copies of the book are available at the Welcome Centre, costing just £5 (£1 less than the price on Amazon) but, as all profits are going to Welcome Church building fund, feel free to pay more than £5, if you wish! 

John will also be selling copies after the 10.00 a.m. service at HG Wells on Sunday 23rd December.

And what a great idea for a Christmas gift, or for some Christmas reading for yourself. 

The book is fascinating, whether you’ve lived through many years of the Church’s history yourself, or are a comparative newcomer wanting to know more about the heroic ‘wall-builders’ of our past.

And rumours are that Book 1 is getting a makeover too and may be available again in 2019 as well. I’m looking forward to that.

Final Gift Day Update

In case you missed the announcement last Sunday, I wanted to let you know the full results of our November Gift Days for the New Building Fund.

The total amount given, including cash, cheques, bank transfers, pledges, and gift aid amounted to a grand total of:

£460,000

That’s a huge amount of money … so let me say a huge,

“Thank you!”

Adding that to what was received during the Gift Days in May, it now comes to a total of £1.86m given and pledged over the course of just seven months. That is a ridiculous amount of money and represents a huge amount of faith and sacrifice by so many people. I’m a little overwhelmed to be honest!

What next?

For those who have made pledges, please do redeem them as soon as you are able.

Additionally, we do need to raise that last £140,000 needed to finish the job, so do be praying and seeking God about that.

We have several months to do it in, so for those who have not given yet, do consider making a gift, and for those who given already, please keep asking God if there is more he wants you to do.

In the mean time: THE BUILDING FUND REMAINS OPEN! 😃

Thanks. One final thing:

Building work is now underway.

Our contractors (O&D Construction) have taken over the site and put fencing up. Proper hoardings will follow in the next weeks and the demolition and construction work will develop in the months ahead. We will try to post interesting photos when we can, but this lot is the best we can do right now:

In the mean time, for your own safety, please remember that we no longer have the full car park here at the Welcome Centre. There are a few spaces available for those who are employed to work here and for a few of our volunteers and visitors to the building too, but the days of free parking for popping into town have gone!

And please also remember that the building site, behind the fences, is now absolutely off limits! We have had to remind a few people of that this week …

 

100 Years Of Remembrance

On Sunday morning we marked a significant Remembrance Sunday: 100 years to the day since the end of fighting in the First World War.

Memorials

Our church has been around long enough that we lost members in both the First and Second World Wars – 14 young men in the first and 4 in the second – and we have war memorials that honour them.

It is our plan to get these memorials appropriately restored and put them back up on the wall as part of our new building project

Looking at the memorials there are some things that stand out:

  • There were two sets of brothers killed in the First World War: Provins and Snell. It must have been a terrible, double tragedy for those families
  • There is one surname we still know well: Gloster. We still have Glosters in our church today and they are related.
  • There is one surname that appears on both boards: MacDonald. They were a father and son, one dying in each war.

When we realise that our church was much smaller in 1914 – 1918, only about 200 people, it brings the scale of that loss into sharp focus.

Remembering our history

On Sunday we observed the two minute silence (silent prayer!) movingly marked by Andrew Dennington playing the Last Post on the flugelhorn.

We also looked at the stories of a few of the men who died … such as

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Harry Jater

Harry Jater: 

Died 3/11/1917; Age 33

 

Harry died fighting in Syria (a country at war again today)
Woking News and Mail said at the time: “He was a member of the Baptist Church and was well known in this district as a local preacher”.

It goes on to say that he was in charge of a Sunday School, and that he used to do work with poor caravan dwellers in Kingfield (where we were then planting a church). He left behind a widow and a young son.

 

Charles Bessant:

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Charles Bessant

 

Died 12/10/1915; Age 20

Charles was killed when a shell exploded next to him in a trench in Flanders Fields.

He worked on the railway in Woking and he loved football and played in local team. He was also part of a local Bible class.

 

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Henry Gloster

Henry Gloster:

 

Died 9/10/1918; Age 25

Henry, known as Harry, went to school in Ripley.
He signed up at the start of the war and was injured in Gallipoli. Having recovered he was sent to France, where he got septic poisoning. Having recovered once more he was sent back third time where he was involved in tank warfare. This time he got wounded in the leg and foot.

Recovering once more he was sent back for a final time. This last time he was caught in a Mustard Gas attack which damaged his lungs. He died of pneumonia in hospital as a result. Harry received two medals.

Gilbert Macdonald:

Died on or after 28/11/1917

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Gilbert McDonald

Age 33

Gilbert was the organist and choirmaster of our church. These days we have no organ or choir, but we have lots of great musicians. He died fighting in Cambrai, France. He was so well thought of in the church that he got an extra plaque which is in the pictures above.

It seems that he signed up to fight, in 1917, after a number of younger men from the church had been killed. He did not last long himself.

A letter sent back from a friend in his regiment said this, “Gilbert hated war, but by absolute will power he suppressed his gentler feelings and made a good soldier. He was a jolly companion and did his duty right to the last”

He left behind a widow and two sons: Harvey and Hamish. Hamish died in 1943, in World War Two, as part of the crew of a Blenheim Bomber.

So many lives

We could have mentioned a lot more detail and a lot more stories, but we looked at these few as a way of remembering. We remembered their lives, we remembered their sacrifice and we remembered that these young men were not so different to us.

They also represent many millions of others who have died in war. It’s important that we remember and are thankful for the price that other people paid for our freedom, and we should also be thankful to God for his protection over his.

Jesus Wept

Ben Martin gave a short talk during the meeting, looking at the story of Lazarus from John 11. He focussed in on one short Bible verse:

John 11v35, “Jesus wept”

Through Jesus we can see that God himself feels grief, and that he is able to stand with us in our times of trouble.

It’s reassuring to know, when faced with tragedy ourselves, that God is is not indifferent to our pain and our loss. It’s reassuring to know that God is able to weep.

Permission Granted!

Last night (Tuesday 4th Sept) I had the joy of sitting in the viewing gallery at Woking Borough Council as the Planning Committee gave their unanimous approval to our new building plans for Welcome Church.

Permission Granted!

This is going to be a huge blessing: to us as a church, to the local area and also to the town more widely. We are so grateful both to God and to Woking Council.

There were lots of positive comments made by councillors at the meeting …

  • About the design: “This will provide a state of the art facility”
  • About the process: “They have worked hard to consult the neighbours”
  • About the impact: “This will be good for the town and the local area”

And there were also many positive comments made about us as a church, accompanied by positive comments about us coming to the end of a long road with this final (and “much appreciated”) application for development of our site.

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We have a lot to be thankful for

Let’s remember to give thanks to God, and also to thank the planning officers and the councillors who gave their time and effort to consider our application.

And let’s remember what we heard on Sunday morning during the worship time: “God did not give us an amazing site in the middle of town so that we can stand still”. We have so much ahead of us to do as we serve the town where God has placed us; the best days are not behind us!

What’s next?

We now have some key steps to take:

  • We need to finalise the finer points of the design
  • We need to raise the rest of the finance
  • We need to sign contracts with the developers
  • We need to prepare ourselves … including putting some things in storage, throwing some things away, working out what it means for how we work and what’s in the diary during the building process

Early warning: one of the first things to go will be our current car park … but we will make sure to communicate well ahead of time.

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A bird’s eye view of our plans

Gift days

We have done amazingly well with raising finance for this project so far. We now need to do the last bit, so there will be Gift Days for this on Sundays 4th and 18th November. Look out for information about that over the next few weeks, and do be praying and preparing your heart for what God may be leading you to do.

Double celebration

It’s actually a double celebration for Jo and I this week. Not only was planning permission granted, but we also passed our first anniversary at Welcome Church on Saturday (1st Sept).

Thanks for all the friendship, support and prayers along the way. We love this church and it’s a joy to be here with you.

Saying “Goodbye” to The Coign Church and “Hello” to Welcome Church

This Sunday, 13th May, will be our last Sunday as The Coign Church. From Monday May 14th we will become Welcome Church.714596

This is an exciting season in our church life together, and you may have already started to spot changes to our signage, our Facebook group and in other areas too. We still have a lot to do to be ready for our first Sunday as Welcome Church on the 20th May!

Read on for some practical info you might find helpful!

Changes online

From Monday 14th May our new website address will be: www.allwelcome.uk – feel free to check it out already and add it to your favourites. The Coign Church App will update to become the Welcome Church App too.

E-mail addresses will be changing too, but they will be easy to work out: just change the last part to @allwelcome.uk – so info@coign.org becomes info@allwelcome.uk  and so on. Simple!

Changes to our site

From May 14th The Coign Church building is going to be renamed: we will be calling it The Welcome Centre. We want to communicate our

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The Welcome Centre

welcome message with our building as well as with our words and we look forward to welcoming many people into our building in the future.

 

We’re also asking people to remove their Coign Church Car Park stickers from their cars from this weekend.

Yes! Really!

We won’t be reissuing stickers at this stage, but we will still be keeping an eye on our car park ( and we know who you are … 😃)

Of course, if the building plans go ahead as we pray they will, we may not have much of a Car Park for a while from the autumn … you have been warned!

Let’s be thankful

The name Coign has been with us for several decades now, and we have so much to be thankful for; so many excellent things have happened up to this point in our story.

Let’s remember: The Coign Church is not closing, it’s just being renamed!

We are not starting over again from scratch; we are privileged to be building on the excellent work of 139 years that has brought us to this point in our journey together.

Come and celebrate

On Sunday morning we will hold the last of our three Gift Day Sundays for the new building project, and I’ll give a progress update on that later in the week too. Let’s enjoy worshipping together with passion as we do that.

Then on Sunday evening we have a meeting planned, 6.30pm at The Coign Church building, (the last time we’ll be calling it that). During the meeting, among other things, we will worship, pray and give thanks for all that God has done. Come ready to take part!

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What a lovely mug!

We also have have a good number of Coign Church mugs that need to be found a new home, so at the end of the evening you’ll be welcome to take one (or more!) home with you … perhaps in return for a donation to the Building Fund. I look forward to drinking from mine for many years to come!