A History of Ferring Baptist Church

In 1967 due to the closure of their church in Goring, 13 adults with 4 children had the idea of staying together, rather than split up to attend  different churches. With no building or name they met in the home of one of the couples on the Goring /Ferring border, the men taking turns in leading prayer and worship meetings. One of these leaders was Harry Compton, father of one of our current members.

Possible premises in the village were discussed with the Vicar of Ferring and by Dec 1967 those first 13 were praying about calling themselves The Ferring Baptist Church. Amongst these founder members was a leader, Mr W.Oram. A secretary, Mr Ron Duke. A  treasurer, Mr A Pines. A Sunday School superintendent, Miss Naomi Cassell and an organist and youth leader, Mr Eddy Hamlin.

During 1968 the name Ferring Baptist Church was officially adopted and the church was formed in association with Worthing Baptist Church which  gave its full support and gifted the church with its first supply of hymn books.

Sunday services initially took place in a school hall belonging to St. Andrews Parish Church and the Sunday School soon moved into the youth centre in what is now the Glebelands Centre, next door to the site that that would be purchased for the building of FBC.

In 1970 Greystoke Road was built through Ferring to ease traffic on the original, narrow and congested Ferring Street and Church Lane which then made one way as it still is. The opening of Greystoke Road also made it possible for Ferring Baptist Church to purchase the land on which the church now stands.

In 1971 a letter was received from a Baptist minister Rev Fred Skeet, returning to Worthing from Southampton. He offered to be the minister of this small church having served in several large churches, and his induction service was held at Worthing Baptist Church in November 1971 and on a wet Sunday following a service of dedication of the newly purchased site Rev Skeet cut the first turf.

[Rev F Skeet, cutting the first turf]

Harry Compton, who was a self taught carpenter and joiner made and gifted the original pulpit which now lives on in the new lectern, the communion furniture, hymn number board and flower tables. All of these were made at his home in his spare time. Other members and friends of the church gifted needed items such as an organ, the offertory plate and the communion glasses. Harry’s daughter Jennifer gifted the visitors book.

The very first church service in the building was held on Saturday 13th January 1973 as the opening and dedication service of the new building when 180 people filled the seats and an overflow congregation were seated in the building next door where the service was relayed. the first Sunday service followed the next day.

[Kathleen Compton outside the Church for the first Sunday Service]

There have been four ministers of the church.

Rev Fred Skeet of Shirley, Southampton served the church until 1978.
Rev John Eyres from Sittingbourne from 1980 to 1987.
Rev Stuart Robinson from Chichester from 1990 to 2018.
Rev Robin Brenchley from Sittingbourne became our current minister in 2019.

Nobody is now sure why the Church celebrates its anniversary in October, but it is believed it was moved to separate it from the busy Christmas and New Year season, with November being avoided because of the Remembrance Day service.

Of course the people are ‘the church’ and there have been many who have come in and out of our doors but all visitors receive a very warm welcome. Over the years the church has grown and branched out into various activities in addition to our Sunday services – including Sunday School, weekly youth groups, sleepovers, women’s fellowship, men’s fellowship, home groups, women’s breakfasts, children’s Holiday Clubs and Dabblers for sharing hobbies amongst others – many of which continue today.

In the intervening years gifts of stained glass windows have been added to the building and a few structural changes have been made in order to incorporate, an accessible toilet. The kitchen has also been refurbished and a sound desk (now digital) has replaced the original system of recording onto cassette tapes.

More recently the sanctuary area has been remodelled with the platform being extended to allow room for the worship team who now lead the congregation in hymns and songs each Sunday morning.