On Saturday, January 13th, 2001, Chelsea Gospel Hall was full to overflowing with members past and present together with believers from other assemblies. All had gathered to praise the Lord for His faithfulness over the past 100 years. It was on January 12th, 1901, that the first meeting of the fellowship was held in a rented hall in Chelsea Road, Easton. Records show that there was a conversion at that very first meeting.
The Centenary celebrations were led by Dr Keith Linton and Professor Alan Linton who were both brought up at Chelsea, their father, Mr Harry Linton, having been an elder for 50 years. In the afternoon, Keith gave details of the history of the church from 1901 to 1960, illustrated by many old and amusing pictures. Tribute was paid to many of the early members whose faith and spiritual leadership was honoured by the Lord with great blessing. Special tribute was paid to Mr Frank Moore who took a leading role in the church during its first 40 years and Mr Ernest Cox who as Sunday School Superintendent for more than 40 years saw the numbers increase to over 200 children.
It was in the late 1920s that the hall in Chelsea Road became inadequate to cope with the large number of children and adults. A site was obtained on the corner of Devon Road with Alpine Road and the present hall was built and occupied in 1930. The name Chelsea Gospel Hall was retained.
It was a joy to have Mr Clifford Hope with us who, with his late wife Edna, was commended to full time service in St. Kitts and faithfully served there for over 40 years. More recently we have commended Dennis Bowman to full time service with Brass Tacks, the Missionary Support Agency.
Mr Phil Ricketts, one of the elders for many years, gave details of the more recent years with additional methods of outreach – Mums & Tots, Feminine Focus, Man Matters, etc., which have been successful in reaching out to the district around. In the evening, Cliff Hope spoke of his conversion, commendation and memories of Chelsea. Alan Linton then reminisced about his early years at Chelsea and brought the meeting to its conclusion with an excellent word of ministry. It was moving to hear over 150 believers singing lustily ‘Lord, of the years Your love has kept and guided, urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way’.
The work continues today with over eighty in church fellowship made up of all age groups. There is a flourishing children’s and youth work and monthly Family Services are particularly well attended. A recent ‘Y’ course series was completed by most of the participants who are now continuing with a discipleship course. Our in-house Good News magazine is distributed to 1,500 homes in the area four times a year.
During the centenary year we arranged special events for each month including, A Celebration of Marriage, Valentine’s Day supper, a Children’s Holiday Club and Youth Week concluding with a Fun Day and a visit for six days by Peter Brandon.
Over the past couple of years we have lacked space for some of the activities and have been prayerfully considering a possible extension to the premises. Plans were drawn up and passed by Bristol City Council. The building work is now in completed and the additional space is a real boon.
It is good to look back and give thanks but there is still much to be done in our needy area. Our prayer is that the Lord will add His blessing to the work that we do to the honour and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.