Old Baptist Chapel

History of the Old Baptist Chapel

Decline

It was three years before the church was able to call a successor to William Hawkins. The minister eventually called was Isaac Spencer, who had previously held pastorates at Hartley Row in Hampshire and at Guildford.

At the end of 1863 he began a pastorate which was to last for sixteen years. Initially the prospect appeared pleasing. There had been several additions to the church between the pastorates, but this was nothing to the increase of 1864, Spencer's first year, when there were eighteen added, eight of these by baptism.

This early harvest contrasted sharply with much slower progress after this. In the 1870s two or three years sometimes passed without any additions. These were years when evangelical churches generally were still well-attended and there was a fair degree of prosperity. Towards the end of Spencer's pastorate it became clear that tensions had arisen in the church and on 7th April 1879 he was given six months notice of the termination of his pastorate.

He wrote in the Church Book that the deacons stated, 'they had nothing against either My moral or Spiritual character but they want to raise the cause'. Some indication of a malaise in the church is indicated by the fact that while there were over fifty members, fourteen voted for the pastorate to end and none voted for it to continue.

Spencer subsequently became pastor of Providence Strict Baptist Chapel Bath. Both Hawkins and Spencer were Hyper-Calvinists, but Hawkins came from a tradition which blended its Hyper-Calvinism with a concern for evangelism, whereas the tradition represented by Spencer showed little of such a concern at this time.


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