Church Anniversary 2019

On the 17th and 18th of November Buckingham Chapel celebrated it’s 172nd Anniversary. Richard Brooks, retired Pastor from Matlock, Yorkshire took the weekend services. On Saturday Richard preached on just one word “Selah: Pause for thought”.  Sunday Morning’s title was “Be careful who you listen to” and Sunday Evenings was “How to be up when you’re down”

Pastor Oliver Gross opened the weekend with these words:

This year Buckingham Chapel is 172 years old. On 20th November 1847, the church was formally opened with a service of worship. 400 people, many of them from the existing Baptist chapels around Bristol, came together to mark the occasion. It was a strong show of support for a new Nonconformist work, in a part of the city where none had previously existed. For many years, Clifton’s only place of worship was its parish church, St Andrew’s. By 1840 however, a combination of doctrinal drift into Anglo-Catholicism and social prejudice in the form of pew rents had caused significant disquiet among the poor and those who held to historic Protestant teaching. The first minute book of Buckingham Chapel tells us that in this year a few Baptist friends met together to discuss how to form a church which should, quote, “exhibit the doctrines and practices of the New Testament, unfettered by State Alliance or the traditions of men.” The task before them was huge, requiring many years of personal and financial sacrifice, and battles with the Established Church that had no desire to see its privileged position undermined. Nevertheless the project began to take shape: a suitable piece of ground was bought; the services of a sympathetic architect, Richard Shackleton Pope, were engaged; the necessary funds for the work were raised; and by 1847 the chapel was finished. The nucleus of the church family that would meet here was made up of a dozen members of other Baptist churches, who transferred their membership to Buckingham. Its theological convictions were, quote, “decidedly those which are… evangelical and Calvinistic,” the trust deed requiring that all pastors of the chapel, quote, “shall hold and preach the doctrines of the essential Deity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the fall of man, his recovery by the free and sovereign grace of God, redemption by the death of Christ, justification by faith only, regeneration by the Holy Spirit, the inseparable connection between holiness of life and eternal salvation, the baptism of believers only by immersion, and the sufficiency of the Holy Scripture as the sole rule of faith and practice.” It was due to laxity in these areas, in particular the questioning of the deity of Christ, that Buckingham Chapel along with many other churches seceded from the Baptist Union in 1972. By God’s grace we still remain true to His word today.

Our city and country have changed a great deal over the years, for better or worse. Yet the timeless task of the church continues as we press on into the 21st century. We believe God still has work for us to do for Him, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a future and a hope. The faithfulness of our members and other fellow Christians over many years is a cause for great thanksgiving, as is the fact that recently the Lord has brought many young adults along to Buckingham, some students, but most not. They have joined us in the life and service of the fellowship. Three of them – Rebekah, Swee, and Dee – were baptised this year, many of their friends being present to witness their confession and hear the gospel preached. These were all joyful occasions, and we look to God to continue adding to His church. 

Due to our greater numbers, last September we took the decision to meet in the main hall on Sunday evenings, and I’m pleased to say that attendance has continued to be good, while midweek here in the lecture hall space is sometimes hard to come by! The regular ministries of the church have continued, only with the children’s Roar group now called Lighthouse, and held at members’ homes rather than at the chapel. For all who serve in these ways, giving up a good chunk of their free time on a regular basis, we thank God; likewise for those whose service is less visible but no less vital. 

As you all know, the Lord has gifted us with a beautiful building. However it does require a lot of maintenance and occasionally alteration, so as to be more accessible and amenable to visitors. In the short term we hope to be making significant changes to the vestibule, to be followed by a renovation of the toilet block. These projects will not be cheap, so please pray for great wisdom and continue to give generously. 

Last but by no means least, just a couple of months ago we lost a longstanding member here at Buckingham: Hilary Golding, wife of Peter, a dear sister in Christ. Our loss, as they say, is heaven’s gain. Friends, that’s our goal. One day that’s where we’ll be, with all whose faith is in Christ. “The Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” Whatever else has happened this year, whatever takes place in the next 1, let’s all keep our eyes fixed on that goal. “And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”