Our Story

Our roots go back to 1908, when Rev Alfred Bird, an ex-missionary from Whitchurch, formed a Baptist church in Basingstoke and conducted services in the Town Hall. Very soon the former British School building on Sarum Hill was acquired and the new church was officially opened on 8 June 1908. Baptist church meetings continued on these premises for 68 years.

mike puseyIn 1960, a young pastor with a Pentecostal background was appointed to lead the church. Mike Pusey stayed just five years, but long enough to lay a foundation on which a former Metropolitan policeman would be used of God to lead the church into a fresh discovery of the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

barney coombsThat policeman was Barney Coombs, who began his ministry in Basingstoke in 1966. He was instrumental in reshaping the church to accommodate: a more informal style of worship; the regular use of the spiritual gifts in church meetings (including speaking in tongues and prophecy); the emphasis of house groups as a basic unit of church life and the place where individuals could find pastoral care, fellowship and personal development, and where new leadership could emerge; the breaking down of traditional denominational barriers; and a renewed long-standing missionary focus.

Despite losing some members who objected to the changes and emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, members gained far outweighed those lost.

victor gledhillAround 1977, through a mutual agreement with the Baptist Union, the church ceased to be 'Baptist' and became known as Basingstoke Community Church. About the same time, Barney Coombs moved to Canada to pastor a church in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vic Gledhill, a former missionary in Nepal, took up the reins of leading the church, which had continued to grow to such a size that a new Sunday meeting place was needed. As a temporary measure, meetings were held at the Carnival Hall from October 1978 for a few weeks, before transferring to the assembly hall of Richard Aldworth School in Western Way. The church continued to meet as one congregation until 1980, when on 14 June, the membership divided into six communities, each using local facilities for Sunday meetings, and then all coming together for a Celebration service on the first Sunday of each month at Richard Aldworth School.

dave & chris richardsIn 1981, after Vic Gledhill had moved on to lead a church in Walsall and Bruce Blow - one of the full-time pastoral team in Basingstoke - had led the fellowship for a short while, Dave Richards was asked by Barney Coombs to take over the senior pastor's role. Under Dave's ministry continuing growth and development of the church took place. Relationships were established with overseas churches, especially in Africa, while major pioneering initiatives at home took place. 1981 also saw the founding of The King's School - fulfilling the church's vision to educate its own children - and the setting up of the Pregnancy Crisis Centre - helping women facing a crisis pregnancy to find sympathetic help and advice.

dave & hazel marchmentIn 1996 Dave Richards released local hand-on responsibility to fulfil wider responsibilities in the body of Christ. He maintained Basingstoke as his base and gave input to the church, but the senior pastor’s role was taken by David Marchment. Under Dave’s leadership the emphasis on local outreach grew. Particularly of note in this period was the participation of the Church in what became known as ‘the Toronto blessing.’ Also of note were the growing relationship of deep trust between ministers in the town, and the formation of the interdenominational “Network Ministers” of which the Community Church was an active part. Sadly in 1997 Dave was diagnosed with leukaemia. Although he experienced times of remission Dave died from this in 2002. During Dave’s illness Andy Taylor, and Dave Downer, two congregation leaders, held the Church on course.

Change has been stamped into Basingstoke Community Church's vocabulary, and in January 2001, a further significant restructuring of the church took place. Each of the six congregations became self-governing churches, although retaining a strong family identity. They were grouped together under the title of Basingstoke Community Churches.

phil & helen norrisThe Churches were now governed by their own local elders as well as maintaining their sense of family and identity through the formation of an Area Team. This was made up of the senior leaders of each Church and various BCC’s wide ministries. Its role was to bring oversight to the family together, to be an arena of shaping and provocation in God for the various senior leaders and ministries, and to consider any strategies for BCC’s as a whole. This team was led by Phil Norris, who had grown up in the Church, leads one of the congregations, and more recently returned from two years biblical study at Regent College Vancouver. The place of the word, the raising of a new generation, and considering how the Church should look in a changing culture and society are ongoing emphases in the Churches. Gradually younger leaders are being raised, to work alongside those more established and there is a sense that together God is leading us on a new journey of faith and adventure. A fresh consideration of overseas mission is taking place, with funds being raised in the school to send students, and relationships built in places like Brazil, Tanzania and Czech Republic.

Basingstoke Community Churches

The Sarum Hill Centre Sarum Hill Basingstoke RG21 8SR 01256 316000

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