The History of

Farnborough Baptist Church

The Gospel Tabernacle

In 1904, having been met with opposition whilst endeavouring to introduce the importance of baptism to Farnborough Gospel Mission, Mr Rawlings moved his ministry to the newly built Gospel Tabernacle on the corner of York Road and Queens Road and was appointed pastor. The Gospel Tabernacle was independent of any denomination, but a significant feature of the building was the large baptistry at the foot of the pulpit, for which Mr Rawlings was responsible, along with the unusual sloping, diagonal floor layout likely due to the historic use of the site as a gravel pit.

Unfortunately, the layout restricted the use of the church to preaching, and Sunday school class venues were a weekly problem. The building also housed a large, tinted glass, leaded-light window set in stone mullions, and an entrance via a door in the south-west corner of the building. Pastor Rawlings continued his ministry until 1914 when he departed to Canada.

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Queens Road Baptist Church

It was in 1922, during Mr Rose’s pastorate (beginning circa 1916) that the Gospel Tabernacle became affiliated with the Baptist Union and known as Queens Road Baptist Church. Pastor Rose continued an evangelical ministry, proclaiming the Christian gospel and building up the church membership. It is possible that, at this time, the practice of a confession of faith and baptism by immersion to become a full member of the church began.

 

Under the pastorate of Mr Missen (served 1926-31), Reverend Phillips (served 1932-35) and Reverend Pay (served 1936-49) the church supported missions in Northern Rhodesia and evangelical churches closer to home that required pastoral and financial assistance via the Pioneer Mission. The Pioneer Mission appears to have been a rather small, home mission society, associated with small Baptist Churches. Mr Phillips himself had previously been a pioneer missionary in South Africa, having helped translate much of the scriptures into the Lamba tongue. He is believed to be the first
ordained minister appointed to Farnborough Baptist Church.

 

Mr Phillips introduced a weekly prayer and praise meeting and a Christian Endeavour group but he seldom referred to the earlier part of his life and work in South Africa. Having previously been mortgaged, it was during this time that Queens Road Baptist Church was given the opportunity to purchase the church building, with the assistance of the Home Counties Baptist Association.

 

The appointment of Mr Pay was linked to his work as Honorary Chaplain to the Forces on the United Board of Chaplaincy. During World War II, Queens Road Baptist church was the meeting-place of a few lads and lasses in uniform due to Mr Pay’s work among the Canadian troops stationed in both North and South Camps.

 

After Mr Pay’s retirement, during a period of interregnum, Queens Road Baptist Church stopped working with the Pioneer Mission, and in 1951, welcomed Mr McGrail, who, during his ministry, was
appointed to serve for a year as President of the Home Counties Baptist Association. Reverend Simpson (served 1956-63) was called to the church after Mr McGrail’s retirement in 1956. He aimed to build upon the good work of his predecessor, and, during his pastorate, the membership passed the fifty mark.

The congregation then grew in number during the pastorate of Reverend Pusey (served 1965-79). Mr Pusey bought a demonstrative, charismatic aspect to the church, although the pipe organ and two manual and pedal Holdich organ was found to be of little use and subsequently moved. This period also saw the reordering of the church interior with the sloping floor replaced. Queens Road Baptist Church began to grow very rapidly to the point where even standing space in the building was taken.

Farnborough Christian Fellowship

With no opportunity to create extra space, in 1979 the congregation was broken down in to various fellowships across the local areas who would meet in various halls and schools, but once a month, come together at the main building for a service together. Although continuing to worship in the Baptist Church, they did so under the name of the Farnborough Christian Fellowship.

The Kings Church, Aldershot

In 1985, Queens Road Baptist church ceased to exist as, due to developments in his ministry, Mr Pusey took the very large congregation to a disused cinema (the 1930’s Ritz in the High Street, Aldershot) and formed The Kings Church, a new, non-denominational centre of Christian worship. The keys to the building on the York Road and Queens Road junction were passes to the Baptist Union Trust as trustees of the building. Despite the departure, the building was left fully equipped with chairs etc. It is believed that during this time a few remaining worshippers continued to meet.

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Farnborough Baptist Church

Farnborough Baptist reopened it's doors as a church community in May 1987. Not much has been written about this period, yet as it is yet to be considered "history".

John Layzell faithfully ministered at the church until his retirement in 2018, following which the church's search for a new minister was not made easier by the Corona Virus pandemic, which forced churches to meet online rather than in person. Retired minister Simon Boddington moderated the church through this period and in September 2021 formerly appointed Josh Waldock as Minister in Training.