The Rev George Fishbourne, a former minister at Bow Baptist Church; Joseph Freeman, a schoolmaster; and a few others, were the founding members of Central Baptist Church (CBC) in October 1852. It was the first Baptist church in Stratford.
On August 11 1854 the land this church is built on was purchased for the handsome sum of £269.50. Think of how much the land would sell today!
The cost of building the church and the adjacent hall resulted in considerable debt which took many years to repay. We are privileged because those who went before us have paid the price and passed on the baton.
Like almost every other Christian church in the land, Central Baptist Church (CBC) has known both good times and less favourable ones. Shortly after the Second World War, many local Christian fellowships and churches in the area had to close due to poor attendance, financial hardship and the physical damage done to many of the buildings from the war.
The banner in front of the Church that reads “Have faith in God – He never fails”, stands as a powerful and apt witness to the faithfulness of God. It is also a constant testimony to the local community and all who pass by.
This church has benefited enormously from the generosity of her members over the years. The prayers and commitment during the dark periods of the war, and the generous financial giving have all played vital roles. For example, in early 2000 the church roof was replaced thanks to a legacy from a much loved member and generous anonymous gifts from others.
In the days before television, radio, internet and email, the church was a crucial source of friendship and fellowship. It is our prayer that it will continue to remain so – despite the many distractions of the modern era.
CBC has had twenty Ministers since its inception in 1852. The longest serving minister was Kenneth Saunders (1974-2002) 28 years. Before that the longest serving Minister had been Rev. J H Banfield (1876-1893) 17 years. The twentieth and current minister is Dele Oke.
Today, the attendance at CBC is made up of people from many diverse backgrounds as it reflects the diverse nature of Newham. Some move into the area to study or work, sometimes for relatively short periods. The congregation includes individuals and families from Stratford itself, Leyton, Leytonstone, Plaistow, and Forest Gate, with Manor Park, canning Town, Hackney, Woodford and Hornchurch (Essex) also being represented.
Recently, members of the former New Pastures Family Church have also joined and this has resulted in members coming from across the other side of the river, and in some cases, from very far away.
The roots of many attendees originate from the Caribbean islands, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Singapore, Portugal, Sierra Leone, India and Malaysia, not forgetting Eire and Scotland. It has been a really remarkable journey for this Church – and God has a lot more in store.
We do hope you will all be able to join us for the meal we have together after the service today as we get to know each other more, and discover together what the Lord has in store for bringing together this amazing family.
It is our prayer that together in Christ and with Christ we will accomplish things for Christ. You are here for a purpose. Make sure you fulfill it.