An even shorter history of Red Hill from 1936 – 2000 written for inclusion in ‘The Worcestershire Baptist Association Remembered’ at the time the Association was amalgamated into the new Heart of England Baptist Association.
RED HILL 1936-2000 : A BRIEF HISTORY
In the years around the War and on through the 50s the work was maintained by a faithful group of members, most notably Frank Wheeler (Chapel Superintendent 1925-1949), Alice Dolloway (Secretary 1936-1968), George Collins (Superintendent 1949-1966) and Stan Giles, who fulfilled a number of positions over the years including a remarkable 64 years as Church Organist. These were generally quiet years but signs of new life appeared in the early 1960s with new work starting up:
- A Women’s Fellowship in 1961 – still flourishing today, although more recently changing its name to Tuesday Fellowship to accommodate men also!
- A Young People’s Christian Endeavour in 1962, soon to have a real impact both in terms of numbers of young people attending Sunday worship as well as in practical ways, in particular the conversion and extension of the chapel cellar to form a coffee bar and new toilets
- In the mid-60s a Junior Club (later Junior CE) followed some years later by an Inters CE
Although withdrawing from the CE movement in the late 1980s, these groups have continued over the years under various names (currently Junior Explorers, XL and Backrow). As to the Sunday School, new leadership and staff in the early 1970s revived a work in real danger of closing and numbers steadily grew. A week long Holiday Bible Club was started, continuing every year since then and attracting up to 200 children at times – supplemented in recent years by an Adventure Camp for 11-16 year olds.
In 1976 Philip Loe took over the Superintendency from Stan Giles, giving new vision and leadership. The growth in numbers (especially families) and activities made it more difficult for members to be involved effectively at Red Hill and Sansome Walk. The result was that in 1983 Red Hill was commissioned as an independent Baptist Church with 60 founding members transferring from Sansome Walk. A year later (the church having in the meantime purchased a manse), Trevor Woodget was inducted as its first pastor, with Home Mission support for the first three years of his ministry.
Over the ten years of Trevor’s ministry the church grew steadily – most notably seen on Sunday mornings. From a handful of adults meeting in a house in 1983 (in addition to the Sunday School at chapel) through Nunnery Wood Primary School (first the TV Room and then the main hall) and the 6th Form College (all together for the first time), since 1998 an average of 200 of all ages has met every Sunday morning at Nunnery Wood High School.
Clearly the 100 year old chapel was no longer adequate and since 1993 the church has been actively searching for a new site – so far without success and with disappointments along the way, not least when a possible site in Walkers Lane was lost on planning appeal and more recently over local hostility to a new church on the St Peters Estate. Yet we still trust that God will open up the way in His time.
In 1996 the church called Martin Hodson as its second pastor – followed in 1999 by the appointment of Steve Thomson as Assistant Minister with special responsibility for youth and children’s work. Also in 1999 Simon and Kate Harry went out to Nepal as career missionaries with the Baptist Missionary Society.
Developments over the last few years have included:
- A growing involvement with the other evangelical churches in Worcester under the banner of ‘Jesus in the City’
- A Link with Osijek Baptist Church in Croatia, fostered by prayer, practical support and mutual visits (including a planned holiday together later this year)
- A new leadership structure of Church, House Group and Task Group Leaders, releasing those with relevant gifts into more effective ministry
- Regular Alpha courses and the Jesus Video Project
- The adoption of a Vision Statement to ‘believe, be and share the Good News of Jesus Christ’
And so the church enters the new millennium with a membership just short of 200; with an emphasis on relevant teaching, contemporary worship, fellowship, service and mission; with thankfulness to God for all He has done; and with expectation for the future.