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50th anniversary at Borehamwood

September 2014

Cowley Hill Free Church (Baptist), Borehamwood, held a weekend of special services in July. Dr Masters preached on the Saturday from Romans 1:16, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel’, laying emphasis upon the beauty of the gospel message.

The most recent pastor, Mr Tom Hill, was preacher for the Lord’s Day. He encouraged the church to continue to trust in the same grace of God that began the work.

During the Saturday meeting the history of the church was outlined. From January 1956, Brethren couple Len and Lillian Woodger maintained a monthly gospel service in a community hall outside Borehamwood. These were supported by David and Eunice Campbell.

Mr Campbell worked in the British Museum library, where he met a young man in the publishing arm of the museum studying for the ministry, Peter Masters. At Mr Campbell’s request, Peter Masters preached at Borehamwood, starting in 1961/62. Peter and his wife Jill were members at Westminster Chapel.

The Masters experienced a growing burden to begin pioneering evangelistic work in Borehamwood and, in September 1962, started meetings in their home. Sunday school work commenced in autumn 1963 after extensive district visitation. The number of children attending soon rose to more than 100.

First pastor

On Friday 10 July 1964, Cowley Hill Free Church was constituted and Mr Masters appointed as pastor. During 1965 the church erected a suitable building near Stanborough Avenue. The church’s opening service took place on 28 April 1966, when Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached.

Lord’s Day mornings were given to Sunday school and young people’s work, and a gospel service was held every Sunday evening. Early in 1968, the church began to hold a worship service on Lord’s Day mornings also.

In October 1970, Mr Masters accepted a call to the pastorate of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, and in 1973 Robert Edwards became the church’s second pastor. The church erected a manse and Pastor Edwards served the church faithfully over the next three years.

Mr Gary Kopfstein and his wife Jan left their native America in 1973 to church-plant in Scotland — first Forfar, then Paisley — before being called to Borehamwood. Gary Kopfstein was pastor until 1997 and under his ministry the church aligned itself more clearly with Strict Baptist ecclesiology.

Tom Hill served as pastor from 1997-2010. He and his wife Valerie moved to Borehamwood from Perth, where he had been pastor of Craigie Reformed Baptist Church for 12 years. Under his expository ministry, the church was grounded in the Scriptures and grew in peace and family unity. The church values the prayers of God’s people as to the appointment of their fifth pastor.