The Assembly at Mill Green Gospel Hall, Ingatestone, Essex is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the building of the hall in 1902.
The work in the area began around 1895 with meetings conducted by Mr. Bishop of the Church Army from his caravan on the common, followed by a visit from Counties evangelist, Mr Humphries. As the seed was sown, further meetings were organized on the green throughout the summer months. This was to continue in the years ahead, and as the summer days gave way to colder and darker evenings, two of the ladies offered their cottages to continue the gospel work and to teach those recently saved. This included a regular children’s meeting which was attended by around 40 children. It soon became apparent that more space was needed and this was provided in the larger home of Mrs. Camp.
Although the meetings were initially directed towards evangelism, further Bible studies were undertaken and the believers desired to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread. The first such meeting took place in June 1898, attended by eleven believers.
As the numbers increased, so did the need for a larger place to meet. Land and building costs were daunting at this time, but after much prayer the decision was taken to build and the site, as at present, was offered by Mrs. Camp’s husband who owned the land. The assembly at Duke Street, Chelmsford offered their help and support and the building work was completed in November 1902, there being twenty-four in fellowship. The opening day commenced with a thanksgiving service at Duke Street followed by lunch. Then a large party from both assemblies was taken to the new hall in horse-drawn brakes. Tea was served to over 100 and many had to stand during the evening meeting.
Mill Green soon became a centre for holding baptismal services as many halls at this time did not have baptistries. In the few years following 1902, fifty baptisms were recorded.
Work amongst the children continued and the Sunday School was well attended. The number in fellowship grew to eighty around 1920. However, in the following years numbers began to decline as many moved from rural areas to industrial centres and by 1935 only twenty remained in fellowship. Again, during the post-war years, numbers declined but the testimony was maintained by a faithful few.
By the seventies, the assembly was still very small but with a strong Sunday School. During the early eighties the hall was extended and modernised to accommodate various activities, and numbers began to grow again.
There are now around forty in fellowship and the assembly continues to be active in outreach through children’s and ladies’ meetings, gospel and family services, the distribution of leaflets and calendars and, more recently, the setting up of a website.
We can look back over the years and thank God for all His blessings and pray that He will continue to guide and bless in the years to come.
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