West Croydon Baptist Church, Croydon

History

The church building was constructed in 1873, with the local Baptist community having been founded in 1869. It was made a Grade II listed building in 1974.

Appearance

The church exterior is in what I believe is known as the Palladian style of architecture, with Victorian red brick. The interior, on the other hand, is rather plain. At the front of the church is a stage of sorts with drum-kits, flanked by staircases which lead up to an organ gallery. A projection screen is in the organ gallery, showing the congregation a live video feed of the front of the church and the words to the songs or Bible readings (the latter is also projected on the walls on either side of the stage area).

In front of the stage is a table, on which were placed the elements for communion. A gallery runs around the sides of the church, supported by pillars. The sunshine streaming through the large frosted-glass windows gave the church a very bright feel to it.

Clergy

The service was lead by a deacon at the church, who explained that he was filling in for the regular pastor who that Sunday was preaching elsewhere. The Bible readings, sermon, and final song were led by someone else, a lady who I assume was a lay preacher of some sort. There was also another lady up on the stage who accompanied the songs with a violin – the drum kits were not used while I was there.

Congregation

The congregation numbered roughly 40 people. I think it would be reasonably accurate to say that half of the congregation was composed of white people in their 50s or older and the other half composed of black people in their 30s or younger – there were of course exceptions, but in terms of age and ethnicity this was the general pattern. There were slightly more females than males.

The congregation were friendly, with members greeting me upon arrival and also talking to me after the service.

Service

There are two Sunday morning services. The first, at 9:15, was the one I attended, and is described on the church website as “a quieter, more traditional gathering” as opposed to the “lively” 11:00 service, described to me as much more “exuberant” by one of the members of the congregation.

After greeting the congregation and leading an opening song (which was, unlike what I’ve experienced in the other Baptist services I’ve so far attended, somewhat unenthusiastically sung), the deacon leading the 9:15 service asked us all to greet each other. This was somewhat like the sharing of the peace, with the members of the congregation turning round to those near them and greeting them. After this, the deacon gave a short talk on Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. This was followed by some of Psalm 37, with the deacon saying some verses and the congregation saying others as responses.

After prayers and another song (which was thankfully sung a lot more enthusiastically than the first one!), there was communion. After reflecting on St. Paul’s instructions on the Eucharist, the deacon broke a loaf of bread and some of the members of the congregation came up to the front to take the bread and wine around the pews, with members of the congregation taking it if they wanted it. They were asked to eat the bread when they got it as a sign of their individual salvation, and to drink the wine together at the end as a sign of their joint membership of the church.

Communion was followed by another song. After this, the deacon read out some notices and the offering was taken. There were then prayers of intercession for the church and the world, and then after another song this the deacon went and sat down with the congregation and was replaced by a female preacher. She gave the Bible readings, Matthew 6:1-4 and Genesis 4:1-8, and then gave a sermon on the topic of giving and of avoiding hypocrisy. After the sermon, she led the congregation in a final song before saying “the grace” (2 Corinthians 13:14) as a dismissal blessing.

The service lasted about an hour and twenty minutes.

Afterwards

At the back of the church was a table with tea, coffee, and orange squash available. There was also a plate of shortbread fingers and a box of chocolates. Several more members of the congregation approached me to speak with me and welcome me to their church.

One Response to West Croydon Baptist Church, Croydon

  1. Pingback: Sutton Baptist Church | South London Church Reviews

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