At Gold Hill we have recently celebrated our 220 anniversary. Below is our history over that time. We look forward to future of Gold Hill and exciting times that God has planned for us.
Also like to thank one of our members Terry Coxs for taking the time to write and research the information.
When William the Conqueror sent out his commissioners in 1086 to survey his kingdom, they found a small organised community in existence at what was called Caedeles Funta, now called Chalfont St Peter. It was huddled around the little Misbourne River on the side of the hill under Gold Hill Common. It remained a tiny village until the eighteenth century when the story of Gold Hill Baptist Church begins.
In 1774 a Mr Woodward licensed the then Mill House (somewhere opposite Grassingham Road) for preaching services. He was joined by a Mr Payne, a carpenter, and they built their first chapel somewhere in the village. Mr Woodward was quite wealthy and later he built another chapel in place of the original at the bottom of Gold Hill Common. The small church was provided with preachers from the Lady Huntingdon’s Connection – a Free Church movement closely associated with Methodism.
The church appointed a Mr Allen as its first minister in 1780. He kept a small school in the village to supplement his income. He was succeeded in 1786 by the Rev Scaife. At this time the church had about 26 members.
The sons of Mr Woodward, the church’s founder, did not share their father’s faith and they often boasted that they would turn the chapel into a kennel when their father died!
This threat unsettled the church members and they started to look for alternative premises. One of the members, Thomas Keen, decided to build a new chapel on his own land at the top of Gold Hill, on the site where the present church now stands. He found the cost too great but, following a public appeal, a new chapel (not the current one) was officially opened in 1792 - hence today’s anniversary celebration of a church having been on this site for 220 years.
In 1807 the church (only 7 members at this point) decided to become a Strict Baptist church under the ministry of a Mr Perkins.
Later in 1807 a Mr Dossett accepted the formidable challenge of becoming Pastor to a tiny chapel which had no manse, no promise of a stipend and only 10 members. The church began to grow and soon there were 32 members and a thriving Sunday School. Mr Dossett resigned on the grounds of ill health in 1827.
A young man in his early twenties, Mr Ives, moved into the area. He was invited to speak at services and in June 1827 he was ordained as Pastor. Very sadly his wife, Mary, died in 1830 age 21 after they had been married for just three months. (See the memorial stone to them both in the passage at the side of the church). By 1835 there were 104 members. Mr Ives served as pastor for 29 years. He died in 1855 when membership stood at about 183.
Using words similar to those in Hebrews 11: 32, there isn’t enough time or space to speak of many others who have shared in the leadership of Gold Hill down the years:
· Mr Dunn 1856 - 1866; Mr Curtis 1866 -1867 (it was his proposal to erect the current building which preoccupied the church for the next five years or so);
· Mr W B Hobling 1868 - 1877 (current church built in 1872 for £900);
· Rev J Thomas 1877 - 1881;
· Rev J M Grant 1882 - 1895;
· Rev Davies 1895 -1921 (burial ground given in 1900, unsightly stove with its long chimney which warmed the church building and the old oil lamps removed, radiators and electric light installed 1907, adjacent cottages bought);
· Rev Longhurst 1921 - 1927 (open membership introduced);
· Rev Hayden 1927 - 1932 (Boy Scouts, Boys Club and Girls Guild set up);
· Rev Leader 1932 -1942;
· Rev Argyle 1942 - 1950 (Boys Brigade and Junior Endeavour established);
· Rev Reece 1951- 1961. One or two of us can still remember him!
Bringing us to more recent Pastors:
Rev David Pawson 1961 – 1968.
His emphasis was on systematic Bible teaching. He reorganised the Sunday School from an afternoon programme to one which ran parallel to the morning service to create an all-age Bible school, the morning service becoming the adult Bible class. A Tuesday evening Bible Study was established and by 1967, it had become overcrowded and the meeting was split into 16 house groups organised geographically. Real fellowship was the aim. Contemporary forms of worship were introduced in church. Fortnightly Saturday evening worship meetings for young people were formed. A thriving YPF was established with a coffee bar once a month at the local community centre. The current Manse was built. A world-wide tape ministry was set up. The strong denominational emphasis began to decline. Renewal and growth in the Holy Spirit and a vision for overseas mission were the hallmarks of David Pawson’s ministry.
Rev Jim Graham 1968 - 1996.
Much was achieved during the 28 years of Jim Graham’s ministry. The concern of the church became the centrality of Christ; the authority of Scripture; the practical outworking of teaching through House Groups; the movement of the Holy Spirit in renewal; the importance of fellowship. Plurality of leadership became a reality when Alan Westwood, Jonathan Morgan, John Hollidge and Graham Dawson joined the pastoral team. Faith sharing teams majoring on renewal were sent throughout the UK. Conferences for UK leaders were held for some years. A Christian Service Training scheme was initiated. Overseas and UK Mission was strengthened. At one point the church supported 60 full-time workers and nearly 50% of the church’s income was devoted to this work. In addition over 25, mostly young men, were trained and sent into full- time pastoral ministry in the UK. The All-age Sunday School continued with about 300 children in junior Sunday School. Nearly 30 House Groups continued to be strategic. A church book shop was started in the 1970’s and The Myrtle Tree, a village coffee and bookshop began in the 1980’s. Pop In, now Jugglers’ Café, for young mums and others reached many in the village. Rock House and Graham House, homes for the elderly, were established following the vision of Reg and Dorothy Watts. The emphasis on renewal continued and membership increased to about 600. An extension was built at the back in the 1970’s and in 1983 it became necessary to have two morning services as we do today. Jim served as Pastor Emeritus at Gold Hill, alongside his UK and overseas ministry, up until just a few months prior to his death on 5 July 2016.
Rev Stephen Gaukroger 1996 - 2008.
Stephen continued the tradition of faithful Bible exposition. A huge achievement was mobilising the whole church into the local community. Full-time paid appointments such as Community and Family workers and Associate Pastors specifically for the Community, for Pastoral Care and for Senior Youth and Children contributed to this. Greater contact with local churches and community officials and dignitaries resulted in a higher respect for the church and the Gospel. The Sharing Project was encouraged and developed and Timebreaker, a holiday club for youngsters and others, became a regular feature. Stephen and Janet remain members whilst Stephen heads up a new outside ministry with Clarion Trust International, its main mission initiative in 2013 being “Crossing London” about which we will hear more.
Rev Malcolm Duncan 2010.
We were so glad to welcome Malcolm and his family in 2010. He continues in the steps of his predecessors as a passionate Bible expositor. Highlights so far:
· nearly 500 attended a week-end house party in 2011 (to be repeated this year);
· a rethinking on the role of women in leadership and in the pulpit;
· a two-week “Run the Race” holiday club on the Common;
· an experimental alternative service in the local pub;
· Interns engaged;
· a move requiring new members to be baptised;
· an open baptismal pool and a leap in numbers being baptised, and more.
We look forward to making future history with Malcolm
TFC/14 October 2012