Church Celebrates First 25 Years
A church plant in a growing community has celebrated its 25 years in style
Friars Baptist Church organised a musical, a talent show, a family fun day and services with former ministers and lay preachers to mark its quarter of a century.
'It was a great weekend,' said treasurer Sue Adams. 'Three days of true celebration of God's faithfulness to us as a church. To Him be the glory!'
The church began life in 1987, emerging out of nearby Shoeburyness & Thorpe Bay Baptist Church.
For several years there had been the desire for a spiritual heart to the housing development centred around The Renown shopping centre in Shoeburyness, which is in southeast Essex.
The Baptist church captured the vision for this new venture, and issued a call to service at Friars to its church members who lived in the vicinity.
They were supported and released by the congregation to work in the building up of the new church.
The first Sunday service was held on Easter Sunday in 1987 in Friars Community Centre, and since then the church has grown and established itself in the community.
In 1991, the Friars congregation with 48 founder members was commissioned as a separate fellowship of Shoeburyness & Thorpe Bay.
In 1993, the two congregations took a 'momentous step' together to proceed with the purchase of land on the corner of Eagle Way and Constable Way, with a view to constructing a new church building. This would open in 1997.
By 1999 Friars Baptist Church was recognised as a Baptist church in its own right, although close links with Shoeburyness & Thorpe Bay Baptist Church have continued to be maintained.
In the early years, pastoring of the fellowship at Friars was substantially carried out by the Revd Alasdair Longwill, the assistant pastor at Shoeburyness.
After Alasdair moved to a new pastorate in 1990, Colin Hardingham was commissioned to serve in the capacity of lay pastor for a period from 1993 until the Revd Neal Smith was inducted as the first full time minister at Friars in September 1995. Neal remained at Friars until August 2000 and during his ministry oversaw the building and establishment of the new church.
The Revd Phil Wright was inducted at Friars in September 2002, moving to Shoebury from the South Green congregation of Billericay Baptist Church and pastored the fellowship until August 2006.
Friars Baptist Church is now pastored by the Revd Vivienne Alexander who moved to Shoebury with her family from Kent and was inducted at Fri
ars in September 2009.
It runs many activities, including a weekly coffee morning for the over 50s, a youth club for year seven and above, and a monthly children's morning on Saturday. The Boys' and Girls' Brigade are also based there.
The anniversary celebrations included Joseph The Stomp Musical, performed by the church children on Friday evening, with a family fun day with barbeque, stalls and bouncy castle the following day.
Saturday evening saw more than 70 people take part in a "Friars ain't got Talent" evening. Two services on Sunday included guest speakers Revd Jim Hamilton, the Revd Alasdair Longwill and Colin Hardingham.
The morning service looked at the past, the present and the future, while in the afternoon Alasdair read from Romans 12, with its call to be changed from the inside out, and to stand out by your values and to make a real difference in your community.
'His challenge to us as a church was to move forward shaped by the church's own context and circumstances, and to walk the path of Jesus by walking as followers of the way of the Lord,' said Sue.
'The fellowship at Friars continues to seek to witness to and follow the Lord Jesus and His purposes in the locality.'