BERKHAMSTED BAPTIST CHURCH PROFILE
“A family following Jesus”
In January 2018 our pastor retired from full-time ministry after almost eight years with us.
Berkhamsted, together with the adjoining village of Northchurch, is a market town of about 21,000 people at the western edge of Hertfordshire in the Chiltern Hills. Central London is twenty-seven miles away, or thirty-five minutes by fast train. Berkhamsted is a residential and cultural centre with its own strong identity. As well as a shopping centre, it is a commuter town with many travelling to London each day.
There are a number of churches in the town including a Baptist church in Northchurch, which is less than two miles away, and an independent Evangelical church. There are four Anglican churches including one combined with a Methodist church, as well as a large Roman Catholic church and a Quaker meeting house. There is a Christian bookshop and a drop-in centre which form the Way Inn Christian Centre.
At present we have forty-six members, the majority of whom are retired. Others include six in full-time employment, two part-time and four unemployed. Our Leadership Team consists of three Deacons and the Church Officers, the Treasurer and Church Secretary. We are an evangelical church and worship with a mix of styles, both traditional and contemporary. The minister leads our worship with the help of a singing group and a keyboard player. An LCD video display screen is used each week for our power-point presentations.
We hold one service on Sunday mornings at 10.30, with communion twice a month and an all-age service once a month. Our congregation varies from week to week, but averages between thirty and forty people. We have a few children but in the main our congregation is in the over-sixty age bracket. Our Sunday school and Crèche are staffed by volunteers and comply with the Baptist Union Safe to Grow policy.
We have First Steps, a weekly parent/carer and baby/toddler group; Open Church on Thursday mornings held in the Lower Hall, where people can drop in for refreshments and fellowship; Open Door Lunch club, a weekly opportunity for retired people to have a hot meal and fellowship, preceded on a fortnightly basis by a worship service. We have two Small Groups who meet regularly for Bible study, worship and prayer. In addition, the Ladies’ group and the Men’s group meet largely for social activities.
We support BMS World Mission and welcomed Peter Dunn to our 377th Church Anniversary service. In the past year we have reached out to the community in a variety of ways:
• We support Dacorum Emergency Night Shelter and food-bank.
• One of our members volunteers from time to time for the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in Bangladesh to teach Appropriate Paper-based Technology (APT).
• Another is the Christian Aid Representative for the town.
• In addition to the Sunday worship service, we have held special events during the year to reach out to the community around us: hot cross buns on Good Friday; fund-raising events including a quiz night, a cup-cake morning and a sponsored walk.
• Several members regularly volunteer for the local Hospice of St Francis.
We have a good team of Pastoral Care workers. We encourage everyone to care for one another but at the same time ensure that all who need pastoral care receive it.
The church building, which is Grade Two listed, is in a prominent position on Berkhamsted High Street and about a quarter of a mile from the town centre. Founded in 1640, we are one of the oldest Baptist churches in the country. The sanctuary can seat over four hundred and has fixed pews and a platform incorporating the baptistery. The church interior has recently been redecorated and newly carpeted. The building is wholly owned by the church and is in trust with the Baptist Union Corporation. As well as the worship area there are two halls, upper and lower, a small crèche room and a kitchen. There are Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s toilets, and an accessible toilet. There is ramp access to the lower hall and the halls are available for hire.
The manse in Bridgewater Road is a south-facing, four-bedroom, 1960s detached house. It is within about fifteen minutes’ walking distance of the church in a pleasant residential area of the town. The accommodation consists of a lounge, kitchen/diner, utility room, downstairs WC, four bedrooms and bathroom, with central heating and UPVC windows. There is a large back garden with mature hedges and lawn and a detached garage. The church wholly owns the property.
Annual income from various sources amounts to around £47,000, of which about £34,000 is from weekly giving and £8,000 from Gift Aid tax relief. The remainder comes from donations, use of church premises, and an annual Gift Day which typically raises £3,000, half of which is given away. Current cash reserves amount to £26,000.
We are looking for someone with vision to lead us forward. We believe this would be a caring, approachable minister who is gifted in preaching and will initially lead the whole service each week. We hope that this person would develop our gifts so that we could share the responsibility; someone who encourages people to live lives more fully in relationship with God and to point others to Jesus.