On 5 September 1808, twenty believers came together to form Beccles Baptist Church. Now, over the weekend of 6-7 September, the church has celebrated its 200th anniversary.
The celebrations started on Saturday afternoon, when the church hall was opened to invite visitors for a cream tea and to wander around the exhibition of church memorabilia. These included a selection of photographs from over the years and a display of old baptismal gowns. Also launched at this event was the publication Beccles Baptist Church 1808-2008 – specially commissioned for the occasion.
It was pleasing that a large number of people spent time with us through the afternoon. The church also conducted an open-air outreach in the town centre, with music, singing and dramatised stories mixed in with the message of salvation.
On Saturday evening the church building was opened for a celebration in music and words. This was well supported, with many visitors attending. The programme was provided by church members and covered a wide spectrum of styles. It concluded with a short message from Brian Edwards, guest preacher for the weekend.
The two Sunday services were used to look back across the years as well as forwards to the future. The congregation was privileged to hear not only the personal recollections of Clifford Pond, Beccles’ pastor from 1954-1966, but also testimony from one of its longest serving members, Mr Harry Ley. Both were very poignant.
As the weekend coincided with the 50th anniversary of the appointment of Derek Cooper as church organist, this occasion was marked too, by the presentation of a gift for his years of loyal service.
After the morning service an excellent celebration lunch was provided in the church hall. During the evening service, testimonies were brought by one of the church’s young people and one of its newer members. There were, as well, personal reflections on the past 50 years from Ruth Cooper.
Brian Edwards preached challenging and encouraging messages from 1 Corinthians 15 at both services. In the morning we were reminded from verse 58 that our work for the Lord is ‘not in vain’. In the evening he spoke on the resurrection from the words, ‘all … changed’ (v. 51).
The blessing of the Lord was felt over this weekend, as surely it has been many times over the preceding years.