Mon, 10 Apr 2017
THATCHAM Baptist Church celebrated 30 years of serving the community with an all-day celebration at the weekend.
Families from Thatcham, Newbury and Hungerford attended on Sunday.
The congregation was addressed by the Rev Richard Littledale, of Newbury Baptist Church, who has featured as a religious speaker on Radio 2 and Radio 4.
Around 40 children took part in an Easter egg hunt in the afternoon and a live band played out the evening.
Church member Jonathon Sayers said the church was built to address the spiritual needs of the growing community of Thatcham and its surrounding villages.
He said: “This is a mission that we hold close and are still every bit as committed to 30 years on.”
Mr Sayers added that the church welcomed many members of the community and was delighted to receive old friends from years past.
The church, in Wheelers Green Way, officially opened on Saturday, April 11, 1987, and marked a turning point for the Thatcham Baptist Fellowship, which had held services in the Children’s Centre at Lower Way and the Memorial Hall.
The church was almost never built, as members spent five years fighting for planning permission.
Developer Rockhold said it would give up a piece of land for the church, but only if it was compensated with open space to build more housing on.
Thatcham Town Council rejected the idea in 1984, saying that the town did not have enough recreation space.
But the old Newbury District Council approved the plans, saying that the church could be used by the community during the week.
Speaking on the anniversary, the Rev Ken Franklin said that the church was fulfilling community needs 30 years on.
He said: “We had people from Thatcham, Newbury and Hungerford attend and enjoy themselves.
“It’s a growing church. We are actually at capacity with our families on Sundays and all of our facilities are in use. Easter Sunday we’re pushing around 170 to 180 people.”
After planning permission was granted, the congregation was told that the church had to be built in two years and that they had to raise the money to build it.
“The people who built this church came from Newbury – they worked hard to try to keep that going.” Mr Franklin said.
“The community needs people in it who do the things that we do.
“We spread as far as Tadley and the eastern edges of Newbury, but people are welcome wherever they are from.”
Looking to the future, he said: “As long as there’s an opportunity to do it people will have a heart to keep doing it.”