From 1903 until 1970 the church was Congregational and became an evangelical fellowship in the late 50’s with Pastor Burns. He was a man of the Word and started the Boys Brigade. A local builder, Ron Chewter, then took the reins and a good Company of Boys and Girls Brigade were the backbone of the youth work. Vi Chewter then died and Ron left for Australia to be with his family.
In 1971 Fred Goodger came to us for 13 years with a strong Calvanistic Ministry. With a young family, he lived next door in the Manse and the Word of God was preached faithfully each week. He led us into the EFCC and later the FIEC. He left for Norwich in 1985.
Our next pastor was Paul Downes, from 1989 to 1995, who again had a young family and helped us in evangelistic work. We did considerable door to door work although the Boys Brigade was fading at this time.
Colin Stringer came to us in 1996 through to 2006 and built up the musical aspects of church life. Different ages of youth work began in the evenings and various new ventures centred on the Word of God. Trevor Dickerson came as our evangelist in 2001 and began a number of Christianity Explored Courses. Colin then felt called to Soham.
In 2007 Dennis Narine became pastor, although living in Ringmer, 11 miles away. His ministry was Calvinistic and exuberant, the church grew in numbers and eight Home Groups developed. A younger man, Chris Durrant, was taken on to assist as a Church Manager and he later married Serena Hickman and lived in the Manse until 2015. 60 people were baptised including a number of Chinese students and we had regular fellowship meals. Three Elders were elected together with 7 Deacons. However, despite many structural changes in both the Manse and Church, the Pastor decided to leave in January 2013 because of domestic problems.
In August 2014 Tim McEntee came from Grace Community Church, Los Angeles, USA, with a strong Calvinistic approach. He was keen to involve us again in a Christianity Explored Course and 3000 leaflets went out before Christmas. In December 2015 our first Christmas Carols in the Park service brought the gospel to some 200 attendees from the Hailsham community.
A two-pipe organ was installed in 1922 and was used effectively until 2011 at a cost of £250. It was dismantled in 2011 due to repair costs totalling thousands of pounds. Various committed organists have led the music until Pastor Colin Stringer and his wife Ann joined us and formed a remarkable music group. This is now led by Steve Somerville.
Many restorations have taken place to the Church and Manse.
|1905||The Building erected and opened March 1905 for £2,133.|
|1971||Name plate changed from Congregational to Free Church. Front porch extended to include toilets.|
|1980||Baptistry built in lower hall. New fencing purchased around the recreational area.|
|1992||Church staging area modernised.|
|1993||Church heaters replaced.|
|2004||Manse roof renewed.|
|2008||Manse extension incorporating new toilet and patio.|
|2009||Church back windows replaced.|
|2011||Pipe organ dismantled.|
|2012||New kitchen, upper and lower rooms plus staircase.|
|2015||Refurbishment of church front and doors.|
|2017||All church windows renewed.|
BAPTISMS, MARRIAGES AND FUNERALS
Since 1997 70 funerals have taken place, 32 of which have been members. Since 2007 62 baptisms have been witnessed, 13 of these are still with us and 7 were Chinese students from Brighton University. Since year 2000 14 marriages have taken place and two members were married at other churches in 2015. (Two of these were renewal of vows.)
There have been several missions in the town over the years. In 1968 Dick Saunders held a Crusade in a field at Hellingly. This was repeated in 1976 behind what is now Waitrose in Hailsham. Doug Barnett (evangelist) came to HFC for a weekend in 1983. Graham Loader (Bristol) took a series on Ephesians at Methodists. Cliff Richard spoke and sang at the Sports Centre in the late 1990’s. Roger Carswell visited HFC for a weekend 7-9th March 2003. Derek Simpson (Leominster) took a town Crusade October 2004. J.John took a Christmas Concert in Sports Centre in 2004.
|1903-1914||Rev A. J. Saville|
|1915-1919||Rev. J. Wright Davies|
|1919-1926||Oversight of Councillor John Duke and Alderman Edward Duke Rev. John Hepp.|
|1926-1932||Rev. S. J. Williamson|
|1933-1938||Rev. G. S. Saunders|
|1939-1944||Rev. W. R. Lloyd|
|1944-1948||Rev. O. J. Searchfield|
|1949-1957||Rev. G. Kenvyn Davies (Joint with Polegate)|
|1958-1961||Pastor Victor Burns|
|1961-1970||Pastor Ronald Chewter (oversight and later Pastor)|
|1972-1985||Pastor Fred Goodger|
|1986-1988||Pastor Tim Bürden was Moderator|
|1989-1995||Pastor Paul Downes|
|1996-2006||Pastor Colin Stringer|
|2001-2005||Evangelist Trevor Dickerson|
|2007-2013||Pastor Dennis Narine|
|2008-2015||Chris Durrant (church worker)|
|2014-2018||Pastor Tim McEntee|
CHURCH ELDERS (from 2002)
CHURCH DEACONS (from 1903)
|Over the years||Les Ashby, Jonathan Austin, A. Baker, Mrs F. Baker,|
|from 1903||Peter Barrie, Ron Chewter, Stan Crooks, Joe Delaney,|
|Lesley Downes, Chris Durrant, Ben Fermor, Alby Fox,|
|Ernie Freeston, Derek Hale, Ernie Harvey, Ben Hickman, Jim Hill, Rob Kendall, J. Lake, Alan Lewis, Vic Longridge|
|Mr. Marshall, Chris Mobbs, H. Myatt, Phil Nye|
|Marilyn Palliser, Ann Parker, Frank Phillips, Mr. Roberts,|
|Viv Piercey, John Pierson, H.Pitwell, John Rhodes, Jeff Ridley|
|C. Snashall, S. Skinner. P. Sweet, Ken Taylor, Hazel Thomas, Ken Thomas, Alan Thompson, Miss H. Tolhurst, Pat Webb|
|Richard Upton, Ian Vickers, Margaret Walker, Norman Wallbridge, Alan Webb, Derek Wells, Geoff Wickham, W. Winbolt|
|Current 2020 –||Steve Somerville,, Karen Tyler|
|1903-1905||A. C. A. Baker|
|1905-1908||John Walter Lake|
|1951-1956||Mr. E. R. Marshall|
|1961-1963||W. F. Winbolt|
|1963-1967||John N. Pierson|
|1967||H. J. Pittwell|
|1971-1972||Derek Wells, H. J. Pittwell|
|1994-2013||Hazel Thomas, Ann Parker, Lesley Stadames and Connie Lancaster|
SERVICE OF CURRENT MEMBERS in SUNDAY SCHOOL
Mary Wickham (Hickman) served in the Sunday School in 195?.
Gwen and Harry Kalaher served in 1960, Jim and Brenda Hill in 1962, Ernie and Shirley Harvey in 1963, Peter and Joan Barrie in 1965 and Lynn Wells (Wickham) in 1967.
In the early seventies, the first Home groups were started and have developed since then. The current Prayer Diary was initiated which has been the basis for prayer throughout the fellowship.
MISSION AND OUTREACH
Missionary interest has developed through internal relationships. We supported:-
- The Boots and Denise Potts at Wycliffe before they retired.
- The Baghursts at New Tribes Mission and The Shepherds in Spain.
- Slavic Gospel when Peter joined the work in 1989.
- Lisa Hickman at the UCCF Oxford University.
- Tear Fund projects and Mary Ma at Brighton.
- Currently we support families in Brighton, Kenya and Poland with Barnabas Fund, Prison Ministries.
- Mombasa Mission
Margaret Walker was missionary secretary until 1993, Peter from 1994.
Evangelism has taken many forms from door to door work in the period from 1992 to 2006. Church events have been used to invite outsiders in and fellowship meals have often been the most ‘enticing’ means of attracting visitors to hear of Jesus Christ. Men’s breakfasts and Ladies evenings have been some of the best attended gospel presentations.
The Fellowship have had several holidays together. The young people have been to Aviemore, Alton Towers and Chessington. Paul Downes took the church to the New Forest in April 1993 and Dennis Narine to Ashburnham in 2009 and 2010. Various members have been to FIEC Holiday Centres. When the Kendalls were with us, there was always an annual Stoolball match and fellowship tea at Bodle Street. Numerous walks have taken place around the Reservoir and Sussex woods & hills.
Originally written by Peter Barrie, June 2015. Last updated August 2016.