Watchet Baptist Church: The Sanctuary
Most people who have visited Watchet know it as a pretty ‘picture postcard’ town but, like many of our coastal communities, a lack of employment and services has led to it now falling within the top 10% most social deprived communities in the UK. As a result, missional ministry at Watchet Baptist Church
has been supported by Home Mission grants for many, many years.
About ten years ago the then small church had a difficult decision to make. Their church building needed some major and expensive renovations. Rather than attempt to find the necessary funds to keep the old building open, they made the brave decision to sell it and instead use other local community halls to meet on Sundays; weekly gatherings are now held in the local school.
The church continued to serve the local community and seven years ago a Vision process began to discover how God wanted the proceeds from the sale of the old building to be used. After six months of seeking God, listening to the local community and discussing the way ahead, the decision was made to buy a new building. The priority was not to create a new space for Sunday gatherings but rather for church-through-the-week, 'a place to 'be' as well as to 'do', right in the heart of the community'.
An old, run-down former newsagent's shop became available on the town’s main street and the then twenty or so members decided to buy it in the knowledge that God’s provision always follows his vision. The renovations proved to be extremely expensive – over £150,000 more than the church had from the proceeds of the sale of the old building – but God provided all the funds in some amazing ways. There are no outstanding debts – praise God!
The new building opened three years ago and was named ‘The Sanctuary’ to reflect the church’s desire to create a place of safety and community, just as the town’s harbour had been for hundreds of years. Now about 300 people each week from the local community come along to the various activities that run in The Sanctuary. There is a weekly Community Meal
, a Youth Café
, two Coffee & Cake sessions
, an Art Group
, a Community Employment Hub
, a Family Brunch
, a counselling service
and, most importantly, at the heart of the building is the Prayer Room
which is used by those from the local community and the church alike.
Over the last seven years the church has baptised over 30 people, attendance at Sunday gatherings is now around 80 and this year, for the first time in a very long time, the church is able to support full-time ministry without the support of a Home Mission grant – God is very good!
for this evidence that he is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.
for a growing realisation within the community of Watchet that God is good.
for those who have begun journeys of faith with Jesus.
for a church community that continues to seek to share their faith in word and deed.
that God will continue to make his mission known and give us the courage to follow him in it.
that the communities of West Somerset will be transformed as they encounter and experience the Kingdom of God.
that many more people will begin journeys of faith with Jesus
that Watchet Baptist Church will know God’s continued blessing, particularly as they now enter a period of Pastoral Vacancy.
(former) Minister of Watchet Baptist Church
Click here to read more stories about how the money you give to Home Mission is being used to bring the love of God to communities around the country.