A History of Wincanton Baptist Church
The church has been small throughout its history, but has been very much part of the life of Wincanton. The original Chapel was built in 1832 and due to the need for a Sunday School two rooms were added in 1833. These were used for the Sunday School, until 1887 and British Schools between 1833 and 1840. In 1887 the ‘School Rooms’ were added to house the thriving Sunday School. Since then an outside toilet block has been added and there have been various internal changes.
Of course the people have changed over the years, but the aim has always been to present the Good News of Jesus Christ in a relevant, contemporary way, both on a Sunday and in our everyday lives.
|Rev. George Day||July 1829||1857|
|Rev. James Hannam||February 1858||February 1872|
|Rev. George Charlesworth||September 1872||August 1878|
|Rev. George Hider||March 1879||June 1886|
|Rev. John Brown||June 1887||May 1900|
|Rev. Joseph Beaupre||June 1901||October 1904|
|Rev. Richard E. Gammon||October 1905||April 1906|
|Rev. H.C. Field||November 1906||March 1918|
|Pastor E.H. Dallimore||April 1919||February 1921|
|Rev. G. Heavens||October 1922||September 1924|
|Rev. P.S. Bragg||April 1927||June 1931|
|Rev. William Jenkins||October 1931||July 1945|
|Rev. A. Russell Tomlin||October 1946||October 1953|
|Rev. F. Hardingham||September 1955||January 1962|
|Rev. S.J. Newbery||April 1962||May 1965|
|Rev. F.J. Morris||January 1966||December 1970|
|Rev. Raymond F. Rose||July 1971||September 1974|
|Rev. Kenneth C. Masters||September 1975||1980|
|Rev. Philip N. Gouldson||October 1981||September 1990|
|Rev. William C. Melone||September 1992|
|Rev. Crawford McIntyre||2000||2008|
|Rev. Andrew Ireland||August 2009|
|Rev. Shayla Merivale||September 2014|
Who are the Baptists?
Baptists are one group within the wider Christian Church. Baptist roots go back to the Reformation in Europe through a group called the Anabaptists. This name was first used as a form of abuse, because of their belief that baptism should occur after a person came to faith in Jesus Christ – as the Son of God and as his/her personal Saviour. Most, if not all of the early Anabaptists would have been baptised as infants, on studying Scripture felt they needed to undergo baptism again. This often led to their being drowned as a form of persecution.
The first Baptist Church in this country was started in 1612. It met in Spitalfields, London. Thomas Helwys, a founder of the Baptist denomination, published A Short declaration of the mystery of iniquity, one of the first books to call for religious liberty. In the 17th century Baptists refused to conform and be members of the Church of England, arguing that Christ, and not the King (or Queen) was head of the church and were persecuted for their beliefs.
Baptist Missionary Society was founded by William Carey in 1792. It is now known as BMS World Mission.
In 1891 General Baptists (who believed that when Christ died on the cross he died for everyone in general) and Particular Baptists (who believed that Christ died for the elect i.e. a particular group of people) came together to form the present Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB).
In 1905 The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) was formed and held its first Baptist World Congress in London.
In 2001 a new regional association structure for BUGB inaugurated. Wincanton Baptists are part of the South West Baptist Association (SWBA).
DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLE
The Basis of the Baptist Union is:
1 That our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and that each Church has liberty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer His laws.
2 That Christian Baptism is the immersion in water into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, of those who have professed repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ who ‘died for our sins according to the Scriptures; was buried, and rose again the third day’.
3 That it is the duty of every disciple to bear personal witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to take part in the evangelisation of the world.
Five Core Values for a Gospel People – identified key values that should guide our living:
Following Jesus in confronting evil, injustice and hypocrisy.
Challenging worldly concepts of power, wealth, status and security.
Following Jesus in transcending barriers of gender, language, race, class, age and culture.
Identifying with those who are rejected, deprived and powerless.
Following Jesus in accepting vulnerability and the necessity of sacrifice.
Seeking to reflect the generous, life-giving nature of God.
Following Jesus in demonstrating in word and action God’s forgiving and healing love.
Calling & enabling people to experience the love of God for themselves.
Following Jesus in engaging in worship and prayer which inspire and undergird all we are and do.
Exploring and expressing what it means to live together as the people of God, obeying his Word and following Christ in the whole of daily life.
WHAT IS BAPTISM?
Baptism is a very special moment on the journey of faith. It is a moment when God’s presence and blessing meets us, and it is a moment when we make our personal commitment of faith in Jesus as Lord.
Normally baptism takes place by full immersion in water as part of a public act of worship. It signifies the end of our old life and of being born again to new life in Christ. It speaks of repentance and cleansing, of being united with Christ in his death and resurrection, and of witnessing to the call of God upon our lives. As the Apostle Paul says, ‘We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.’ (Romans 6:3-4)
Baptism is also about receiving God’s Spirit for service in the church and in the world. It is often accompanied by the laying on of hands as a sign of commissioning, and by being received into membership of the church.
The vast majority of Christian churches affirm baptism as a moment when we receive God’s gift and respond in faith, but not all practice believers’ baptism. Many baptise those who are too young to make their own response of commitment to Christian discipleship, and so parents make promises on their behalf that are later ‘confirmed’ by the person themselves when they are of an age to do so.
Many Baptists will want to welcome and affirm those who have a different story to tell of how they have been baptised and come to faith, while still declaring our conviction that believers’ baptism is the pattern that is set out for us in scripture.
There are many reasons why believers choose to be baptised.
Jesus set an example: Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). Therefore, to be baptised is to be obedient to the path set out by Jesus.
Jesus commands us: In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus says, ‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’
The early church practised it: On the Day of Pentecost Peter tells the people to ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:37-38). There are other examples of baptism throughout the book of Acts which suggests believers’ baptism was an integral part of early church life.
To be baptised is a way of opening ourselves to God’s blessing and of expressing our commitment to lives as disciples of Christ.
HOW DOES BAPTISM HAPPEN?
When a person decides to be baptised they will normally have a period of preparation, during which the church (usually in the person of the minister) will help them understand more about the Christian faith and the meaning of baptism. This usually takes place in the weeks before baptism.
A baptism in a Baptist church is nearly always by full immersion. Many Baptist churches have baptismal pools at the front of the church that are often hidden under the floor, with steps going down into it. Before the baptismal service, the pool is uncovered and it filled with warm water. Churches that do not have a baptismal pool may hire an inflatable birthing pool or use a local swimming pool, or even use a river or the sea if close by.
At the service itself, any being baptised will often give a testimony to the congregation on how they became a Christian and why they have chosen to be baptised. Then, immediately before baptism, they will be asked basic questions of commitment, including an acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
A minister normally baptises. He or she will hold the person being baptised, placing one hard on their back and the other on their chest. They will then say the words, ‘I baptise you in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’, and plunge the person being baptised backwards so that they are fully immersed in the water, before raising them back up to standing position. They then leave the water.
The person baptised will often be welcomed into church membership at communion in the same service or at the next opportunity.
THE LOCAL CHURCH
Local churches form the front-line of Baptist mission. Over 2,100 churches belong to the BUGB, each of them autonomous, self-funding and the majority of them financially independent.
Most churches have their own building but others meet in homes, schools, community centres and other public places. Some follow a traditional style of worship whilst others are trying new ways of doing church to attract people that can find church alien to their culture and way of life. Churches will normally meet for worship on Sunday but will also have meetings during the week like bible study groups, parents and toddlers, youth clubs, lunch clubs etc.
Some churches in the Union are not solely Baptist but a combination of two or more denominations known as a Local Ecumenical Partnership (LEP). Baptist churches in some areas have formed a ‘cluster’ and many work with other denominations on joint mission events and projects for their communities.
There are Baptist churches with a team of ministers whilst others may have a part-time minister or no minister at all. A national fund, Home Mission, provides grants to those churches who would struggle to finance a minister’s wages or an evangelism project on their own. Home Mission also pays for publications, training events and support for all local Union churches from regional associations and the national resource centre in Didcot.
We are supported by other Baptist Churches around the UK through the Home Mission Scheme. This enables us to have a full-time minister.
We believe in the authority of Scripture and as a result practice believers’ baptism by immersion and the communion meal. We believe that the church meeting together discerns God’s will.