1960s and 1970s – A New Era

The 1960s were not easy years for the church. Membership was eroded by death and removals. There was difficulty in getting supplies of preachers from London. This led to the increasing assistance from local Baptist lay preachers, and resulted in a desire for closer links with local Baptist churches. In 1909, the Woking Year Book and Directory had listed Hope Chapel as a ‘Baptist’ church, which led to a vigorous protest to the Editor of the Woking News and Mail. Perhaps this was prophetic!

Mr. G. Wyatt, President of the Baptist Preachers’ Association, fostered the links. The ministry of men such as Ernest Matthews, John Buttler, Peter Knapton and many others led to lasting friendships. Help was given by local Baptist ministers, especially David Pawson, Philip Jones and Harry Shaddick.

At the same time, the church was involved with discussions within the Churches of Christ about possible union with other Free Churches, especially with Congregational and Presbyterian Churches. In 1968, the Rev. Philip Morgan and Mr. A. Scott visited the church and set out the issues. But for the Knaphill church God seemed to be pointing the Baptist way. A deputation of H. Caudwell, E. Lloyd and A. Turner had conversations with the Rev. Vivian Evans, Baptist Superintendent of the Southern Area, and led to the church sending a resolution to the Annual Council of the Churches of Christ that the members wished to ‘take positive steps towards joining the Baptist Union’. In 1973, the church resolved to change its name to Knaphill Baptist Church, and applied to the Home Counties Baptist Association for membership.

The Annual Report of the church for 1974 describes that year as ‘a very eventful year in the life of the church . . . The Lord has led us into new paths in his service’. Two major events took place during the year.

The Home Counties Baptist Association accepted the church into membership. At the Spring Assembly held at Godalming on May 11, Mr. A. Turner, Mr. E. F. Lloyd, and Mr. and Mrs. D. Whittingstall were present and were welcomed as representing the church. The process of change was brought to its climax when the church joined the Baptist Union in 1977, and also adopted a new constitution which conserved the essential insights of the Churches of Christ, but brought it into line with Baptist principles and policy.

Rev. James SuttonThe second event took place on July 13, 1974 when the Rev. Jim Sutton was inducted as Honorary Minister. Mr. Sutton and his wife had worked as missionaries with the Baptist Missionary Society, and was Secretary of the Feed the Minds Christian literature agencies. The Rev. Charles Campbell spoke as Moderator of the HCBA, and old friends of the Churches of Christ mingled with new Baptist friends to wish the church well on its new path. This new venture also reached its climax when Mr. Sutton as inducted as fulltime Minister on July 5, 1980. The appointment was made possible through a grant from the Baptist Home Mission Fund towards the Ministeral ministry.