Flitwick Baptist Church

Centenary Celebrations

In 2007 Flitwick Baptist Church celebrated 100 years

April 2007 was the centenary of the founding of Flitwick Baptist Church (FBC), and the opening of its building. Flitwick, now a town with over 12,000 inhabitants, was a small village in 1907; its growth is largely due to its excellent rail and road transport links, enabling it to act as a pleasant dormitory to the nearby towns of Luton, Bedford and Milton Keynes, and also to London.

There were believers in Flitwick before the church was founded, who travelled each Sunday to worship in neighbouring villages; it was the realisation that their witness in Flitwick would be far more effective if they had a focal point in the village that caused them to construct, initially, a building designed as a Sunday School, with the intention of subsequently enlarging it into a church. In fact, a full range of church activities was held on the site from the start, and it was to be some 70 years before any building extension took place.

Over the last 100 years, FBC has had its ups and downs, both spiritually and numerically. In 1972 it left the Baptist Union, following the controversy over the sinlessness of Christ aroused the previous year by Michael Taylor, and then joined the FIEC. It was at this time that the church’s growth, in line with the post-war expansion of the town, necessitated the extension of the buildings. Originally, the land on which the church and manse were built was given by a wealthy local Christian; since then, however, the church members have never been especially well-to-do, and extension of the buildings, in the 1970s and subsequently in the 1990s, has been achieved by sacrificial giving, and by the use of members’ talents and skills. Looking back, it is remarkable to see how God has always met financial needs at exactly the right time.

As the town started to expand, the church began systematic door-to-door visitation to the new housing estates, a ministry which continues. Outreach has been one of the church’s explicit aims for the last 40 years or more, taking various forms; summer activities for children and teenagers, missions, special events (harvest suppers, carol services), services at homes for the elderly, for example. Very recently, FBC has started ‘Stepping Stones’, an informal gathering on Sunday mornings designed to be unintimidating to people not used to ‘traditional church’, where people can learn in friendly surroundings about the Christian faith and its perspective on life. In its first three months, several new people have become regular attenders.

In recent years, FBC adopted a mission statement:

“Our aim is to know, follow and share a living Jesus in our community”.

One outcome has been the start of mercy ministries serving the wider community. Superficially a prosperous and tranquil area, Flitwick has serious social problems, perhaps exacerbated by the fact that many people are relatively new, and its commuter residents have long days away from home. Since 2003, the church has provided the base for a Family Support Group, run by Spurgeon’s Child Care, whose purpose is to promote the welfare of vulnerable children under 5, and help their families. The group is led by a FBC member, and other church members help on a voluntary basis. A spin-off from Spurgeon’s is the ‘Ark’, a drop-in centre for designed to give parents some 'timeout' from the busyness of looking after children. The church’s Mums and Tots group is regarded by local health visitors as the friendliest in the area, and for this reason they recommend it to mothers new to the area.

Since 2001 FBC has been supporting Providence Baptist Chapel in the nearby village of Clifton, where the membership was dwindling and ageing, but still had a vision for the Gospel. Several FBC families committed themselves to the Clifton church for a period of several years, and the pastors and elders have supported the Clifton leadership, and provided most of the teaching ministry. The church has seen conversions, and there is now a thriving work among children and teenagers.

Since the 1980s, FBC has moved towards plural eldership; it currently has 3 lay elders, in addition to its 2 pastors, Michael Teutsch and Mark Sewall. Michael and Mark have been at FBC since 1998 and 2002 respectively; both are American, although in mitigation each has a British wife.

Although in its 100 years, FBC has sent only one long-term overseas missionary, and that more than 50 years ago, the church’s missionary vision is not at all narrow; particularly important has been its interest in the Mwani people in northern Mozambique, developed through the Africa Inland Mission’s ‘Adopt a People’ programme. In recent years two young members have served overseas, and it is looking probable that both will make long-term commitments.

As it approached its centenary, FBC a church with a membership of 128, and buildings which are still in almost constant use for a wide range of ministries to all ages. It saw the Centenary, not simply as an occasion for historical reflection, but principally as a time for thanksgiving to God, and a special opportunity for witness to the wider community. It is held a number of ‘high profile’ public events; the first, a concert by Stuart Townend and Lou Fellingham, took place in February. Copies of the church’s history were placed in local libraries and schools. Why not come and see us? Find out more on by exploring this website.

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