In the last hundred years Britain has seen 24 Prime Ministers, 5 Monarchs, 2 World Wars, the formation of the NHS, major advances in medicine and the invention of the radio, television, mobiles and the internet, to name a few. The world then and the world now are very different places.
But the events that have occurred in the last century, bear no comparison to what Christina writer Max Lucado calls history’s ‘Main Event’. When Christ died and rose again, He changed history forever – He changed the way we can have relationship with God. This is wonderful news and across the whole of history, whatever else changes, this message never alters. Jesus called His followers to share the message, to be faithful to it, to stand firm and to stand out, to be salt and light: salt in a decaying world and light in a dark one.
And, on the corner of Testwood Road and Waterhouse Lane, a church was planted in 1911 to be that salt and light, to stand against the changes of time with the timeless message of Christ.
The church was planted by members of Portland Baptist Church which stood in the center of town on the site that is now Asda. They wanted to reach out to the area of Berrywood (later Millbrook and now Freemantle), especially to the dock workers.
To begin with they met in a house in Testwood Road and on 10th April 1911, the foundation stone of the church building was laid.
We know very little about the early days of the church, except that the first superintendent was Arthur John Austin and that a key member of the church was Miss Aylward, who “laboured in this cause” for many years. Her work is commemorated on the plaque on the Communion Table.
From that time onwards, the church has been salt and light to the community in a variety of ways. These have included Sunday Services, a Sunday School (later Junior Church), Mid-week Bible Studies and Prayer Meetings, Ladies’ Fellowship, Boys’ Brigade, Girls’ Brigade, Youth Groups, Parent & Toddler Groups, Social Events and Outreach Projects. The style of these events and activities have changed over time to match the talents of the church and the needs of the local community, but God’s message has remained the same.
As we go forward, we re-dedicate our work to God, asking Him to help us continue to faithfully be salt and light to a new generation.