Victorian fayre for 150th anniversary
Coconut shies and all things Victorian were the centrepiece of Hill Street Baptist Church’s 150th anniversary celebrations, reports Kira Taylor
The church in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, opened in July 1866 and decided to dive back into its roots to celebrate the anniversary last weekend (16 July).
The car park was transformed into a Victorian fayre, complete with puppet show and craft stalls, with the coconut shy proving a particular success. The church was packed for a Victorian sing along, which was also well-received. The Victorian theme aimed to entertain the community in what was a free, fun event.
'People couldn’t believe we were doing it for free … it was a fantastic day,' said minister the Revd Simon Thompsett. 'It was hard work, but really worth it, we immersed ourselves in the theme by all dressing up which helped.'
The event was also a chance to celebrate and give thanks for the time the church has had and looking for God’s guidance for its future. An exhibition about the church’s history by Derek Stephenson showed that although funds were originally hard to gather, it grew in popularity and by 1903 there were 400 children in its Sunday School. Derek emphasised the links between the community and the church, something picked up on by Simon.
'The church has always had a heart to serve the community and share the gospel at any opportunity,' Simon explained. It currently runs activities for youth groups, parents and toddlers and coffee mornings, while the building also plays host to barn dances, and karate, drama and arthritis care groups. The local mayor described the Baptist congregation at Swadlincote as ‘the jewel in south Derbyshire’.
On Sunday there was a service of thanksgiving, led by Pastor Bruce Webb from Woodlands First Baptist Church in Texas, with whom Hill Street are building a link. Bruce originally came to the church during his sabbatical in 2014 and was invited back for the weekend to preach and take part in the celebrations.
On being asked how other churches can do the same, Simon said, 'Simply meet and serve the community and let them know that as Christians we can have fun and have a sense of humour!'
Kira Taylor is an editorial intern with The Baptist Times