Some 200 years ago this year, a handful of converted people on the Fylde coast in Lancashire, convinced of baptism by immersion, purchased a portion of land for the princely sum of £10 and set to work erecting a Baptist chapel in Inskip, where the preaching of the gospel could be heard.
The chapel still stands, but has recently had a £300,000 extension to improve the facilities and bring things into the 21st century. The community of Inskip in the 1800s was approximately 800 people, and all these years later that figure is more or less the same.
On the chapel’s centenary, then pastor A. J. Long wrote a book, entitled Hitherto, charting the growth of the work and the various setbacks. It makes interesting reading and came as a surprise to some to read that even the 1904/5 Welsh Revival had an indirect impact on the chapel, in seeing quite a surge in converts at that time.
In thanks to God, the church decided to have a convention to publicly acknowledge God’s goodness to the church over its first 100 years of witness. The event then was so successful that it was repeated the following year and has run ever since.
This August the people at Inskip will not only be celebrating 200 years of Christian witness, but also 100 years of Bible conventions (programme at http://inskipbaptistchurch.org.uk/index.php/whats-on).
Past and present
The oldest member of the fellowship, George Roskell, was at the first convention and, God-willing, hopes to be at this year’s convention, having only missed a couple over the past century. Moreover, many well known people have spoken at the convention over the past century, leaving many interesting stories as part of the chapel’s heritage.
William Young Fullerton, converted under C. H. Spurgeon, wrote the final verse of his hymn ‘I cannot tell why He, whom angels worship’ while speaking at this convention.
One year, Gladys Aylward was asked to speak of her missionary work in China. Part of the way through her talk she stopped the afternoon meeting, saying there was a noticeable absence of the Holy Spirit. She called everyone to prayer and then said they would recommence after afternoon tea. Apparently the second meeting was a lot better!
In recognition of these two significant anniversaries, the church has reprinted A. J. Long’s Hitherto, built a large extension and organised meetings of thankfulness, to which Roger Carswell was invited and spoke passionately about the gospel to a full chapel. Around 250 people from the area congregated to see the new extension and view the bicentenary exhibition.
Rural evangelism is a different ‘ball game’ from town or city evangelism, but the church’s goal is to make the chapel a centre of excellence on the Fylde coast. This is so that people in this area may know that, 200 years later, the gospel is still the power of God to salvation and the Bible as relevant today as it was to the founders of the chapel.