INTRODUCTION

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.

MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS

1903 1911 1958 1965 2002 2015
15 82 30 65 91 67

MUSIC

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.

RESTORATIONS

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.

CHURCH PASTORS

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- Pastor Tim McEntee

CHURCH ELDERS (from 2002)

2002-2005 Trevor Dickerson
2002-2005 Stan Crooks
2007-2010 Bill Durrant
2011-2012 Roy Keefe
2007- Peter Barrie
2010- Alan Thompson
2011- Mark Field

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 2016 – Steve Somerville, Joe Delaney, Marilyn Palliser

CHURCH SECRETARIES

1903-1905 A. C. A. Baker
1905-1908 John Walter Lake
1908-1943 Calvin Snashall
1943-1951 Mr. Roberts
1951-1956 Mr. E. R. Marshall
1956-1961 R. Chewter
1961 Mr. Phillips
1961-1963 W. F. Winbolt
1963-1967 John N. Pierson
1967 H. J. Pittwell
1967-1971 Derek Wells
1971-1972 Derek Wells, H. J. Pittwell
1972-1973 D. Hale
1973-1979 E.C. Freeston
1979-1984 Frank Phillips
1984-1990 Jonathan Austin
1990-1994 Philip Nye
1994-2013 Hazel Thomas, Ann Parker, Lesley Stadames and Connie Lancaster
2010-2013 Alan Thompson
2013-2015 Chris Durrant
2015- Alan Thompson

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.

MARRIAGES

27.07.1970 Ben and Mary Hickman
11.09.1976 Geoff and Lynn Wickham
??.??.1993 Ken and Hazel Thomas
24.06.2000 Amanda and Phil Downes
25.10.2003 Pip and Matt Perkins
04.09.2004 Clive and Shireen Wickham
??.??.2005 Andrew and Priscilla Levell
17.01.2009 Ben and Sarah Fermor
03.07.2010 Serena and Chris Durrant
13.08.2010 Lisa and Andy Williamson
20.08.2011 Roy and Joy Stevens
20.06.2015 Graham and Christine Gould (at the Grange, Uckfield)
17.07.2015 Matt and Olivia Field (at Bromham)

RECENT BAPTISMS

25.01.2004 Carol Collins
17.08.2008 Paul Hohn
21.09.2008 Michelle Webb
16.11.2008 Graham Tyler
04.01.2009 Sarah Fermor
19.04.2009 Paula Keene, Tony Colman, Margaret Brine
11.04.2010 Geoff Collins
20.06.2010 Mo Alford
20.06.2010 Luke Tyler
18.07.2010 Roy Stevens
29.08.2010 Matt Field
12.12.2010 Julie Field, Luke Field, Paul Lockie
20.11.2011 Jim Griffiths
09.09.2012 Nicola Field
17.01.2016 Chichi Mahonye
25.02.2016 Betty Mepham
23.10.2016 Abi Izzard
26.02.2017 Stephanie Edwards
02.07.2017 Shirley Lynham

HOME GROUPS

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 and Christian Concern.

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.

HOLIDAYS

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.