East Ham Baptist Church Then ......
The story so far….
In 1895 the London Baptist Association promoted services in East Ham, then a fast growing dormitory suburb. A temporary iron-building at the corner of Katherine Road and Victoria Avenue housed the first congregation. R. Sloven, 1896-1908, became the first minister.
In 1901 the congregation moved to a new building in Plashet Grove with a 1000-seater sanctuary surrounded by halls and rooms. By 1903 membership was 972, one of the strongest churches in the then East Ham Borough. In 1908 Charles Howe led a team of East Ham members to start Bonny Downs Baptist Church - and stayed there for 53 years.
Worship, preaching, programmes and activity continued under the leadership of F. Williams, 1909-1919 and then returning from 1925, after the ministry of F.C. Buck 1919-1924. But two world wars, 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 resulted in population movement away, which unsettled, affected and weakened the church.
The slow decline of the 1930s accelerated during the 1939-1945 war and continued inexorably through a succession of ministers and then lay-pastors. Membership was 228 in 1941 and 52 in 1951.
Humphrey Vellacott came in 1967. His first morning congregation was 6 people, the evening 14. But, he left: 100 members, a morning congregation of 150-200, evening congregation of 70-80, a Prayer and Bible Study group of 50-60 'converts or restored back-sliders', a reshaped building and a team of young ministers working in East London Baptist churches!
With the surrounding population changing fast through immigration, particularly from Africa and Asia, the congregation became multi-racial but continued to record a steady 100 membership from the 1980s into the 2000s. Roy Scarsbrook, joined and followed Humphrey Vellacott during the 1980s staying to 1999, emphasising evangelism and eventually becoming one of a group of supported overseas missionaries, as he went to Poland. Tony Watts, a New Zealander, came initially for a six-month interim pastorate but stayed to 2008, and faced a transient situation within a multi-faith, multi-racial environment.
Colin Marchant June 2008
From 1st May 2009 we started a New Chapter with the arrival of Pastor Jeremiah Dawood. The church is grateful to the Lord who answered our prayer by sending Pastor Jeremiah and his family to us.