Guernsey’s La Villiaze Evangelical Congregational Church celebrated its 200th anniversary throughout 2016. For the church, this brought into focus the wonderful truths of Psalm 100:5: ‘For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations’.
Monthly special prayer meetings were occasions to give thanks for God’s goodness in the past, to ask his blessing upon the events of the year and to pray for the grace and help needed to press on into the future. God has answered these prayers, especially in blessing three flagship events during the year.
In June, the church organised a celebratory street party. The sun shone and 120 people attended, including a number of new and existing contacts from the local community and many friends from other churches.
Then, in September, the church sponsored the visit of Professor Andy McIntosh, while October’s Evangelical Times contained an article outlining the blessings known at this time. Finally, the main anniversary services were held in October, when Mr E. M. Hicham from France encouraged us by preaching about the church as the body and bride of Christ.
Given the church began as a French-speaking church, probably known as L’Eglise Independante de St Andre, and only transitioned to English-speaking after the Second World War, we were able to acknowledge this heritage by holding a traditional French service during our anniversary weekend.
The island is now all English-speaking, but French-speaking locals, both Christians and non-Christians, attended and the gospel was clearly proclaimed.
Obviously the Second World War was a significant time in the history of Guernsey, and therefore the church. The Germans commandeered the building due to its close proximity to the airport. Church activities had to be suspended during those years and the building was seriously damaged. The church was able to start meeting again in March 1946 and, after repairs, the building was reopened and rededicated on 9 December 1948.
Little is known of the church’s history prior to the Second World War, as it is believed all church records were destroyed in advance of the invasion.
It is understood the church was founded under God by Clement Perrot, who was a grandson of a Huguenot exile, and who later moved to England, where he became well known for visiting France and reporting back on the ongoing situation there.
Since the war, the church has had two long-serving and faithful pastors, who served for around 40 years each, and has had a third new pastor since August 2013.
The congregation averages around 30-35 weekly, and is boosted in the summer months by holiday makers. As a church, we are thankful for the Lord’s goodness to us over 2016 and during our long history.