Old Baptist Chapel

History of the Old Baptist Chapel

The Pastorate of James Clark 1886-1891

In the seven years before the next pastorate the church was maintained with possibly a small increase but not on the scale that the deacons seem to have hoped for at the end of Isaac Spencer's pastorate.

It did not prove easy to obtain a successor, but eventually James Clark, pastor of the church at West Hill, Wandsworth accepted. The church noted that in 1887 there were fifty-eight members. In the same year a considerable renovation programme was carried out. The chapel was closed for eight weeks and services were held in the Town Hall, now the Roman Catholic church, in Market Street.

At the chapel there was a redecoration; the old box pews which had doors were removed and the present pews were put in. No change was made to the seating in the gallery. The seat rents were increased to two shillings (10 pence) per quarter downstairs and one shilling and six pence (7 pence) in the gallery.

In December 1887 James Clark baptized Harry Hart who was to remain a member until his death on 1st April 1936 and was to carry much of the responsibility in the very difficult days which lay ahead.

The two hundredth anniversary services were celebrated in May 1889 on a Sunday and the following Monday with five services altogether. The preachers were the pastor, Edward Carr of Leicester and Charles Hemington of Devizes.

It seems to have been with a sense of deep regret that the church received the news that James Clark would resign in October 1891. He moved to St. Neots, Huntingdonshire where he accepted the pastorate of New Street Baptist Chapel. There were various attempts to obtain a successor but at first, to no avail. The church even wrote to James Clark in 1897 asking him to return, 'the cause evidently declining under the present system of supplies'. He refused as he had just accepted a call to Hope Chapel, Bethnal Green.

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