On the evening of Thursday 14th September 1769, 15 men and 19 women gathered together to form a new Baptist fellowship in Bessels Green. On that day, 250 years ago, Bessels Green Baptist Church was born.
From those 34 original members we have grown into a community with a membership of just under 200 and a monthly attendance of around 300, across 3 services of worship, and with 3 distinct congregations here and in Dunton Green. BGBC is reaching out to many others across Sevenoaks and the surrounding villages through sport, art, children’s work and our seniors lunch club.
That first meeting in 1769 was chaired by Mr Thomas Deane, a local gentleman whose grave can still be seen to the left of the pathway as you approach the church. It was he who issued ‘the call’ to our first pastor the Rev John Stanger. It is an honour, a privilege and quite a responsibility for me to serve God and this church community as the church’s 29th minister.
Alongside Rev John Stanger, the newly formed church appointed 2 deacons. We now have a large and supportive leadership team of deacons, elders and trustees who work with the staff team to keep us on track and faithfully moving forwards.
After the founding of the fellowship the next task was to build of a place to worship. Mr Charles Polhill, of Cheapstead (now Chipstead) Place, gave a portion of his land from the ‘Great Barn Field’ and the plans were drawn up for the erection of a meeting house and a residence for the minister. The new meeting house opened on Sunday 23rd of December 1770. Over the next couple of years, we are embarking on significant, and somewhat overdue, building programme which will regenerate our premises. Our aim is to make the building fit for the 21stCentury and a hub for the local community.
In the 250 years Bessels Green Baptist Church has been meeting for worship the world has changed beyond recognition. I wonder what those first members would make of the fast paced, fast changing world we find ourselves living in today? BGBC has had to change and adapt many times during that time. The industrial revolution, two world wars, the motor car, space travel and now the internet will all have brought their challenges and accompanying changes!
It has been said that change is the only constant. A church that doesn’t change with the times, a church that stands still, is simply drifting backwards. We cannot be too comfortable or complacent. Instead, we are committed to doing our best to be a church for the 21stCentury and our interconnected, internet enabled world; whilst always remaining true to our core beliefs and values.
We have much to be thankful to God for and to celebrate in this our 250thyear! So, over the weekend of the 14th and 15th of September we are holding a couple of events and you are warmly invited to celebrate with us:
Saturday 14th of September, 2-4.30pm – we are hosting a free fun day on Bessels Green. Face painting, bouncy castles, strawberries and cream, games and much more.
Sunday 15th of September 10am – we are holding a special celebration service of thanksgiving followed by lunch together.
We really hope you’ll be able to join us at one or both events. We’d love to see you!
Grace and peace,
Rev Charlie Ingram
Charlie is the senior minister at Bessels Green Baptist Church, services are at 10am and 4.30pm on Sundays at BGBC and 10am at the Pavilion in Dunton Green. Please check out bgbc.co.uk for more information about the church and all that goes on during the week. Get in touch via email, email@example.com