The one time Foreign Missions Club (FMC), now known as the Highbury Centre, celebrated its 120th birthday at the end of last year.
A celebration was held on Wednesday 25 September, when staff, trustees, former managers and friends attended to express thankfulness to God and acknowledge his great faithfulness.
‘Our God is faithful’ and ‘God’s people are thankful’ were the two main points given in a brief message by chairman of the trustees Maurice Wade.
The excellent booklet, A place for pilgrims, written by the late Phyllis Thompson, a former trustee of the FMC and missionary with the China Inland Mission, recounts the beginnings in 1893, as a cry went up for missionaries to be able to stay in London in comfortable, affordable accommodation.
God answered the cry and two Victorian dwellings were purchased in Highbury New Park. Later, a bigger property was obtained at 20-26 Aberdeen Park, Highbury, London, N5 (the present address).
In typical style, Phyllis Thompson wrote of the handover at that time and of the grace and patience given to Miss Annie Angus and Miss Gladys Dawe who served God and his people at the club at that time and for many years.
This booklet was written in 1978, and there have been four printings of 2000 copies each, with a small update in 2000. Hopefully a further update will be attempted soon.
During the day a celebratory service was held in the large blue lounge, when the present staff, trustees and former managers contributed.
An encouraging number of visitors came during the day. In his report, Mr Wade emphasised that the Highbury Centre still has as its priority the accommodation and care of missionaries and full-time Christian workers, for whom discounted rates are available.
Keeping up with government regulations can be challenging and expensive. However, God has wonderfully helped in the provision of finance, committed trustees, excellent staff and the overwhelming desire on the part of all to do all to the glory of God.
Joseph Hewitt gave something of a personal testimony, relating how he was called to the pastorate of Highbury Baptist Church in 1960. He came with his first wife, Barbara, and three children under 5, and served for 18 years, as well as teaching part-time in Highbury Grove School for Boys.
Resigning in 1978, he heard of the vacancy at the FMC and applied, having met so many Christians from all over the world who stayed there and loved it. The trustees were unanimous that they should be appointed, so nearly twelve years of caring began. God seemed to set his seal and the place thrived.
In 1988 Pastor Hewitt received a call to College Park Baptist Church, Lewisham, and so in 1989 left to become a full-time pastor again. This was right timing because his wife was becoming ill and sadly, after two major operations, she died in 1991 and entered glory.
David and Beryl Littlehales took over immediately as managers and wonderfully served the FMC for 14 years and, with the help of Sue Warren, brought change. They left in 2003 and Sue, now Mrs Scalora, took over as manager.
This was an excellent appointment, with Sue having now been working at the Centre nearly all the time since 1979 (34 years).
Please pray that the warm, homely Christian atmosphere may continue; that the Lord Jesus Christ will bless all who enter the centre, that they may know God and be enriched by his Word and presence.