Sutton Baptist Church

History

The Baptists in Sutton worshipped in a meeting room from 1862 until 1883, when a church was built in the town’s high street. This was used until being demolished in 1934, upon which the congregation moved to the current building (that only took six months to build), which opened in September 1934.

Appearance

The church was designed by Nugent Cachemaille-Day (1896-1976). Although the architecture is modern, it has some noticeably Gothic influences, for example in the high pointed windows.

The interior is more richly decorated than other Baptist churches I’ve been to. Two of the windows – the one at the front, and one at the side with a plaque dedicating it to members of the church who died in the Second World War – have stained glass with images of Christ, angels and saints.

Underneath the front window is a bas-relief depicting the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). There is no altar where one would usually expect to find one, although there is a table at the front of the church that was used for communion. Instead, right at the far end of the sanctuary is a large font for baptisms.

A large pulpit is on the left-hand-side at the front of the church, but was not used during the service that I attended. A wooden cross hangs down over the sanctuary, and there was also a display of flowers at the front.

Clergy

The service was taken by a male minister in a suit and tie. He spoke very well during the sermon, and introduced himself to me after the service. The Bible readings were given by a man from the congregation.

Congregation

There were roughly forty people in the congregation when I visited (although, being August, there may usually be slightly more). There were slightly more females than males, and roughly a quarter of the congregation were of an ethnic minority. In terms of age, most of the congregation were middle-aged or young adults, although there were several children and elderly people. They were all very friendly, many of them approaching me to welcome me.

Service

The service began at 10:30, with the congregation standing as the Bible was brought into the sanctuary from a back room.  After a welcome and a moment of silence, there was a responsorial call to worship, followed by the first hymn. The words were printed on the service sheet.

After prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer, the minister gave a talk on the subject of picnics, leading on to the subject of the feeding of the 5000. After another hymn came the Bible readings, John 6:1-15 (the feeding of the 5000) and 2 Kings 4:42-44 (a similar event in the ministry of Elisha). The Bible readings were given by a gentleman who came up from the congregation, and were followed by the sermon.

I found that the minister’s sermon was very good, speaking about the feeding of the five thousand (although he did seem to conflate it with the later feeding of the 4000) and talking about how those who seek to explain it away through rational means do not understand the message of how God can always provide for us in ways that we cannot.

After the sermon came a hymn and prayers of intercession, followed by the sharing of the peace. After another hymn came communion, with the bread and wine being taken around the congregation and given to those who wished to partake. The bread was eaten upon being received whereas the wine was drunk collectively, as was the case at West Croydon.

After communion came a final hymn, and the service ended with the Grace (II Corinthians 13:14) being said.

The service lasted roughly an hour (I regrettably forgot to accurately time it).

Afterwards

Tea, coffee, fruit squash and biscuits were served at the back of the church while members of the congregation chatted with each other. Many approached me to welcome me to their church.

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