There has been a gospel witness on Park Ridings for many years, but the story of the present congregation begins in early 2004, when a group of people came together as Rehoboth Church in the St. Ann’s Library Hall under the pastoral leadership of Barry King. For a year and a half the newly formed independent evangelical church functioned without a building of its own. It continued to hold weekly meetings in the library hall and for a while in a Salvation Army Hall just off West Green Road. Bible studies, prayer meetings, and training days for men interested in entering Christian ministry were held in a community centre and in people’s houses. From the start, the church was characterised by Christ-centred expository preaching and a culture of evangelism.
As the church grew, the need for a building that the congregation could call its own became increasingly apparent. At this time, God was pleased to provide by bringing Rehoboth Church into contact with the few remaining members of the church on Park Ridings. The two groups of people began joint meetings and in the space of a few months had naturally come together as one – keeping the name Rehoboth Church and maintaining the original Park Ridings congregation’s affiliation with the Association of Grace Baptist Churches (South East). A few years later the church changed its name to Grace Baptist Church, in order to more clearly and effectively communicate our doctrinal convictions and church distinctives to the surrounding community.
Over the course of our brief history we have actively sought to bring the good news of God’s grace in Jesus Christ to people locally, nationally, and globally.
Locally we have taken advantage of a number of evangelistic opportunities to reach the diverse people and cultures represented in Wood Green: door-to-door work, book tables, evangelistic services, community BBQs, mass leafleting, personal and small group Bible studies, seasonal outreaches (such as our annual “Christmas Ends Loneliness” meal), and “G.R.A.C.E. in the Sky” – a long term evangelism project on the Sky City Housing estate.
Nationally, a major part of our story has been church planting. We have been directly involved in organically planting (as opposed to trans-planting groups of people!) nine churches, eight of which are still functioning (two were geographically close enough to join together) and faithfully preaching the gospel in contexts ranging from urban to rural. When the opportunities to do this kind of work increased beyond the ability of our own local church, the Grace Baptist Partnership was formed in 2010 to help like-minded churches across the nation plant churches by providing training, resources, and practical assistance. Over the years we have sent out called and qualified men to serve in these church plants, and in 2013 we sent out Pastor Barry King (who leads the Grace Baptist Partnership), his wife Frances, and three of their children to assist a church planting project starting with three octogenarians in the Buckinghamshire village of Edlesborough. At the same time, the congregation unanimously called Ryan King as the pastor of Grace Baptist Church Wood Green, a role he took up in October 2013.
Ours is a global gospel. From the earliest days in the library hall, we have been committed not only to welcoming people of all backgrounds to our fellowship but to taking the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth – not just in theory but in practice. We have supported church leaders and members alike on a number of trips to various places in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe (don’t worry Australia – we’ll get to you eventually!). We have a monthly financial commitment to support Daniel Caballero, an indigenous gospel worker in Peru supported through Grace Baptist Mission, and have freed up Pastor Ryan to work two days a week on a local church based ministry called Euro Evangelism, begun out of the partnership of a few men who desire to see the gospel once again faithfully proclaimed in Europe.
People have sometimes assumed that we are a large church. We are not. We are a small and growing church. But we have a big God who saves us with a wonderful message and sends us out on a great mission. Maybe you would like to join us?