Hope Chapel in Haslemere was home to a Strict Baptist church in Surrey for 156 years until 2018 when its doors had to close. However, in March this year the empty building was granted a fresh lease of life. The trustees decided to reopen the chapel for use by another fellowship: Grace Church Guildford.
Grace Baptist Trust Corporation decided against selling the historic building and invited the Guildford church (an independent Grace Baptist fellowship) to consider planting a church there.
A six-month trial period of evening services started in March in order to gauge sustainability of a plant. After three well-attended services, the services had to move online following the coronavirus outbreak.
The decision to use the building followed monthly prayer meetings which took place in the chapel in 2019. It is hoped that the new evening services will still be well attended once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Preaching during the six month trial will largely fall to Dr John Benton, former pastor of Grace Church Guildford.
Dr Benton said, ‘About a year after it closed, some friends and I obtained the key to the old chapel. It was a winter’s Saturday morning but as we opened the door the sun shone and the chapel was in such good condition that it just seemed to be saying to us, Here I am ready to go — do something!
‘On Sunday evenings at Hope Chapel we are looking at the New Testament book of Romans, where God is described as the God of hope.’
By John Tredgett