Our History began in 1813 … flowing from Austrey:
According to “Deep Roots, Living Branches”, “A History of Baptists in the English West Midlands” by Alan Betteridge [1]Between 1790 and 1815 “Villages around Tamworth were new ground entered by the New Connexion [Baptist’s stream] with lasting success. Austrey, like so many other places … had both ignorance of the way of becoming a Christian through faith in Christ and a fierce rage against any attempt to change things. “John Barnes, a well-to-do Austrey sheep farmer, had learned something of the gospel from a member of the Castle Donnington General Baptist Church (Leicestershire) and became sympathetic.

“Then early in 1802 Barnes met Joseph Goadby, minister at Packington 6 miles away. Goadby made Barnes think about the deplorable neglect of Christianity in the Austrey area and asked for the chance to preach in Barnes’ house. So first Barnes went to Packington to hear for himself, he was convinced, and was baptised there on 15 May 1802.

“The next Sunday Goadby preached the first sermon at Austrey in Barnes’ woolroom from a favourite General Baptist text, 1 Timothy 1 verse 15, ‘This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.’ “The wool-room was adapted for services; people came both the village and more distant places, but some local farmers created a lot of opposition.

“Soon Austrey was responsible for preaching elsewhere. With their mother-church already stretched in other directions in Leicestershire, Austrey became a separate church of 15 members on 7 August 1808 … .” with Austrey’s chapel being built in 1819. Austrey Baptist church was mother to Polesworth Baptist Church, which started “in a warehouse by the canal bridge in June 1813…” with her chapel being built in 1828.

Betteridge give little more of the history of Polesworth Baptist Church, except to say that “Austrey’s old daughter-church at Polesworth … felt the tensions that new movements could bring to a small church and 15 people moved from it the Tamworth Baptist Church in 1990.” [2] Sadly these tensions also led to many members splitting away, taking much of the Boys and Girls’ Brigades with them to set up a Christian Fellowship in the unused Anglican St John’s Church Centre.

Polesworth Baptist Church has repented of her part in these events, forgiving all who were involved and asking in the grace of the Lord that if such tensions arise in the future, we may “be completely humble and gentle; …patient, bearing with one another in love, [and be willing to] make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” [NIV Ephesians 4:2-3] May the Lord bless us in this.

New doors and more

In 2009 the church installed new entrtance doors. At its Sunday morning service on the 19th July 2009, the Church gathered outside of the church building, to mark the opening of the doors.

Steve Wallis (the minister) gave a short talk in which he thanked Wilf Bates (who sadly could not be with us to cut the ribbon); whose generosity had made the new doors possible.

He said that new doors had opened up the church to those in the local community and transformed the entrance into a place of welcome.
Steve then led in prayer, expressing a hope that the people of Polesworth would enter through the doors and find a place of calm and peace in the presence of Jesus.

Dr Ken Crofts then cut the ribbon and led the congregation into the church
building to the hymn “We shall enter his gates with thanksgiving in our hearts”.Bi-Centenary Celebrations: 1813 – 2013

The new doors as seen from the inside – note the window notices have since changed

and we’ve changed the window that was here into an emergency exit, as well as changing out internal looks.

Bi-Centenary Celebrations: 1813 – 2013

On the weekend of 15th – 16th June 2013 Polesworth Baptist Church celebrated her foundation in 1813. After starting in the warehouse near the canal the congregation began meeting in Harvey’s Barn which was that other side of Fairfields Lane, in the region of Potters Lane and Common Lane. At that time George 111 was King, Jane Austin published “Pride and Prejudice” and there was still 2 years go before Wellington beat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

It was not until 1828, according to Alan Betteridge, that the Church building was erected – there our rumours it was built in 1829 – perhaps it was started in the one year and completed in the next?
Our 2013 Celebrations began with a prayer breakfast on Saturday morning followed by a talk “The story behind the founding of the Baptist Church in Polesworth in the early 19th century”, by Margaret Henley, based on her research, in which she introduced us to those who bought and erected the building. The grave stones of some of these founders are still to be seen in the church graveyard today.

Celebrations continued in the afternoon led by many South African friends of the church, inspiring all present with the joyful singing of traditional and modern songs in both English and African languages. Then following a service of celebration led by our then minister, the Rev Steve Wallis, with guest speakers the immediately former minster, Rev Paul Rendle and his wife Hazel.

Sunday started with a service in the style of 1813, including hymns popular at the time and Steve preaching a sermon originally given by Christmas Evens, a famous Welsh Baptist Minister of the early 19th century.

Other links with the past were in worshippers attending in period dress, the fellowship lunch serving popular 1813 food and an opportunity after lunch for children.

The festivities ended with a final service of celebration, led again by the minister. The special guest was another former minister, Rev Peter Norris. Peter who came with his wife Hilary, shared from his time at Polesworth, but also challenged the Church to maintain her witness for Christ for the next 200 years or until He returns.