It’s amazing the things you can find in the Bible.
Pastor Nick found this historic document inside the official Church Bible. It’s a list of the ministers and pastors since Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church was founded in 1958, inscribed in their own fair hand.
Behind that terse list of signatures lies an inspiring story of faith, perseverance, outreach and growth.
It all began back in 1949 when Mr and Mrs V.D. Vail, members of Purley Baptist Church in Banstead Road, started a Sunday School in their home for children in and around Old Lodge Lane. During the 1950s the Sunday School grew to the point where there was hardly enough room for all the children.
About this time the Reedham Park estate was being developed, and the local council offered a site to any church prepared to develop it. Purley Baptist accepted the challenge and the result was the church part of the building we have today, built at a cost of around £9,000 (to put the figure in context, at that time a good semi in Old Lodge Lane would have sold for around £3,500).
A stone laying service was held in the partially completed building on 6th December 1958, and on 7th July 1959 the official opening ceremony took place, fittingly led by Mrs Connie Vail.
The following February saw the appointment of Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church’s first pastor, Rev. David Kingdon, who left after four years to become Principal of the Irish Baptist College in Belfast. He was followed in 1964 by Geoffrey Richards, then a mature student at Spurgeon’s College. He was ordained in July 1965 and continued here until 1967. During his ministry the buildings were extended with the addition in 1964 of a new prefabricated hall costing around £1,250.
During the 1960s Old Lodge Lane became increasingly autonomous and in 1968 the PBC membership list was divided between the two churches. However, the leadership at Old Lodge Lane continued to change frequently. Rev. Richards was succeeded by Rev. A.J. Sleeman, but he left the following year. Two members of Purley Baptist were deputed to lead the work at Old Lodge Lane until 1969 when Rev. John Pearse became pastor.
In 1971 another newly-ordained minister, Rev John Maile, was inducted, but when he left in late 1974 to pursue further studies and teaching at Spurgeon’s College the leadership role again fell vacant. Rev Bill Mumby, one of the ministry team at PBC, was given responsibility for Old Lodge Lane in September 1975. Bill brought stability to the leadership and spent the next thirteen years here.
The 1970s saw runaway inflation, so when a new hall and kitchen were added in the early 1980s the price tag was £51,000, nearly six times the cost of the original building.
It was during Bill Mumby’s tenure that the main event in Old Lodge Lane Baptist’s history occurred. On 30th June 1984 the church became independent of Purley Baptist, 25 years almost to the day since it was officially opened.
Bill Mumby remained in post for another four years. When he moved to Brighton in 1988 there followed another period without an official pastor, and oversight was entrusted to Rev Derek Mucklow and Arthur Rowe as Moderators.
In September 1992 Stephen Harrison, another newly-ordained minister, was inducted. He developed the community outreach activities which have always been a feature of Old Lodge Lane Baptist Church, and also oversaw further building works when the toilet area and the corridor connecting the church and hall were installed in 1996.
The last year of the 20th century saw Rev Harrison moving to Watford and also the fortieth anniversary celebration on 11th July, one of the hottest days of the year, when the church was full to overflowing. The service was led by Rev David Murray, though at the time no-one knew he was to become the next full-time pastor the following year.
David was here until 2005, when he left to become Minister at Thorpe-le-Soken in Essex. He continued the theme of active community involvement and when the Croftleigh Area Residents Association was set up in April 2004 their first meeting was held at the church.
He was succeeded by Rev Nigel Jones as Moderator, assisted by a team of deacons. Then in 2010 our current Pastor, Nick Graves, was appointed. Nick has enthusiastically accepted the challenge and continues to lead the way in taking the message of Christ’s gospel of love to the local community.
* Credit and thanks to the unknown individual who made sure the office archive contained a copy of the booklet marking the church’s 50th anniversary in 2009, on which most of the information above is based.