Wallington Baptist Church

History

(From the National Archives:) “The church was formed under the name Carshalton Baptist Church in October 1876 after a number of open-air preaching services conducted by Mr Brewood and Mr May of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Early meetings were also held at 2 Cambden Road and later at the Public Hall at a rent of £60 a year. Mr May became first pastor. Both Charles Spurgeon and his brother James are mentioned in the first minute book (-/1/1) in gratitude for their support. In 1878 Mr May resigned and in 1879 the Rev T W Scamell of the Pastors’ College, became student pastor. A building fund was set up about the same time. In 1880 the Rev James E Jasper was invited to become pastor and continued as such for 44 years until his death in 1924. The church was opened by the Rev. C H Spurgeon on 21 March 1888.”

Appearance

The church is built out of warm orange brick, inside as well as out. The inside of the church has a wooden ceiling, and stained glass windows with colourful patterns rather than religious imagery. A circular stained glass window is at the front of the church, displaying a Star of David – this is a symbol not often seen in Christian churches, and it may be used to represent the Trinity (two interlocked triangles), but I don’t know.

The inside of the church is not richly decorated. A few banners hang on the walls, and there are two small memorials to the dead of each world war, as well as a photograph of who I presume is the church’s founder. At the front of the church, beneath faux organ pipes, stands a projector screen onto which the words of the songs were projected. In front of this is a table on which is placed a Bible and a candle, and in front of this are the lectern and music-sheet stands for the band.

Clergy

The service was led by a male minister helped by a female worship leader who led a lot of the songs and some of the prayers. There was also a small band at the front which played along to the songs and as members of the congregation were arriving for the service.

Congregation

The congregation numbered between 50 and 60, and were very friendly. I was approached by several people asking if it was my first time visiting, if I lived nearby, if I’d like to stay afterwards for coffee, etc. Elderly people, ethnic minorities, and children seemed to each make up just under a third of the congregation, and there was a good balance between male and female.

Service

The service (which started at 10:30) was, in the words of one of the people who welcomed me, “somewhat happy-clappy”. It was divided into three main parts, each lasting roughly half an hour. The first part consisted of several contemporary hymns being sang one after another, with breaks now and then for short prayers or talks. Members of the congregation would clap to the music, wave their hands in the air, and play on tambourines and maracas in time to the songs (or, in the case of the children, just play on tambourines and maracas).

The second part consisted mostly of prayers, taking some different forms. Some were led by the minister, whereas others followed more of a “shout out what you want to say” format. Halfway during these, after a prayer for them, the children left to go into the church hall for a Sunday school type of meeting.

The third part of the service began with a Bible reading, Philippians 2:1-11. This was followed by a long sermon by the minister, based around the reading and on how Christians should live in compassion, truth, love, etc. After a final song, the service ended with a blessing by the minister at around 12:00.

Although I found the service to drag on a bit towards the end, overall I very much enjoyed it. The people there were very friendly and welcoming, and the singing especially was very uplifting.

Afterwards

Members of the congregation went into a church hall after the service for coffee, although I could not join them due to time constraints. A few others – including the minister himself – approached me and spoke to me before I left, making clear that I was welcome and inviting me to visit again.

One Response to Wallington Baptist Church

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