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History

A few believers in the Baptist denomination met in a tiny cottage owned by a Mrs Masters in Bexleyheath. As the fellowship grew, a small Strict Baptist chapel was erected in 1823. It was located on the south side of the Broadway, opposite the clock tower where Primark now stands. A plaque on the Primark store now commemorates that first tiny chapel.

During the Pastorate of Revd Joseph Wallis that small chapel became "too strait for us" and the plot that Trinity now occupies was purchased for £60 and was a corner of a strawberry field.

The Revd Joseph Wallis resigned and the Revd William Firth succeeded him. The cost of the land and the building was about £2,000 and a "memorable Bazaar" held at Hall Place among other means raised the funds. It is thought that Trinity received its name from the regular preaching of Revd W Firth on the subject.

Underneath the memorial stone is a bottle-shaped time capsule which contains a history of the old chapel together with the newspapers "The Freeman" a Baptist publication, The Bexleyheath Messenger, The Bexleyheath Observer, and a copy of C H Spurgeon's publication "The Sword and the Trowel".

1868 - A debt remained on the opening of £350 (the equivalent to about £250,000 today) due to extras the contractors put onto the account (nothing changes!!) and so "a mortgage was affected".
1870 -  it is recorded that in the year ended the amount received by the Pastor, including "Pew rents" to be £87.11s.6 1/2penny
1873 July  - Revd Firth handed in his resignation and died a month later. On the recommendation of C H Spurgeon Revd Edward Fisk (pictured left) was appointed on a stipend of £120 pa, but only held the Pastorate for two years from 1873-1875. Unfortunately his successor William G Jeffrey (pictured right) only held the post for two years as well due to becoming gravely ill and died aged 54 in 1877.
1874 - the debt of £350 was called in.
1877 - Mr George Smith (pictured below), fresh from the Pastors College took up the Pastorate of Trinity on a stipend of £150, which rose to £180 in 1879.
1878 -  The first Sunday school rooms were built for £1,100.
1884 - £660 was spent to refurbish the chapel "owing to the constant fall of plaster plus new windows, as fear of the heavy glass breaking in high winds" as the church was standing on its site, on its own.

It would be 20 years before the church took on any major task. A new century had started. In 1886 the church fell into arrears and a special collection was taken to pay the Pastor the £25 deficit to his stipend. Things went from bad to worse. The church owed the Pastor £75 at the end of the September quarter, half of his salary, because the Pastor agreed to a £30 cut in his £180 pa, taking him back to his original £150 pa. Therefore Mr Smith resigned in 1888, but at a special church meeting he was asked to stay, which he did. The period of financial struggle passed and Mr G K Smith stayed for a further 25 years. In the opening years of the twentieth century records show that the membership at Trinity stood at 170.

With the death of his wife and a continuing throat infection Revd Smith suggested to the deacons for a co-pastor. F W PorterMr F W Porter (pictured right) was appointed to the post in 1912. In 1913 Revd Smith resigned, Mr Porter married Miss Eva Register and with a unanimous vote became the pastor of Trinity. 1914 and war had begun but in May of 1918 Mr Porter made reference "to the merciful deliverance from destructive bombs". Trinity Baptist Church has lived and been a part of Bexleyheath during considerable hardship, especially during a shift in skills away from farming, At the turn of the last century Bexleyheath had 12% unemployment.

Cottages to the rear of the church were offered to Trinity in 1913 and were eventually purchased so that the land would be available at a later date. The purchase price was £1,000, raised by gifts and loans. The letting of the cottages brought in 36/- (36 shillings) a week (£1.80p).

The surplus funds raised for the cottages formed the basis for the Jubilee fund. A schools block at the rear of the church would cost an estimated £4,150. By 1933 the funds were in place. With the funds the church had raised, plus a bank overdraft of £2,000 at 4% with a loan from the Baptist Property Board £1,000 at 0% for five years, put Trinity in a position to plan to build.

Efforts were made to finish off paying for the loan but war broke out and the loan was eventually paid off on April 14th 1945. £4,150 in 1945 would be the equivalent of £200-£220,000 today. Note of interest the builder was Harold Friday who was also the Treasurer.
 
Instead of building on the cottages site, a new school block was built onto the rear of Trinity and was completed by 1935. The cottages had a demolition order placed upon them by the council, as they wanted to put a road through to service the rear of the shopping centre. The cottages were sold for £2,750. After solicitors fees were deducted the remainder, £2,600, was placed in trust with the Baptist Property Board, to be used only for projects on church premises.

During the Second World War Trinity Baptist Church and the Trinity cottages sustained damage on several occasions. On one of these three incendiary bombs exploded, "piercing the church roof and setting fire to the false timbered roof", and it was the prompt action of the pastor and the Fire Brigade which saved Trinity.

In 1951 a Manse Fund was set up and in 1956 a very substantial legacy made provision for a manse. Mr Samuel Cook of Elmdene, Standard Road left his property and a bungalow to the church. Revd Porter was unwell during 1953. During the following years failing health dogged Revd Porter and he preached for the last time in July 1959, bringing to a close 47 years of faithful ministry in Bexleyheath. In which time the town had developed largely, the church had grown, yearly contributions had increased and many new organisations had been founded. Altogether, a remarkable record.

The Revd Christopher Witty Steer was appointed to the Pastorate in 19611968 was approaching which was the centenary year and so plans were being made to put the church into good order. It is interesting to note the names of two of the deacons from the centenary year, a Mr Alan Abernethy and a Mr Bryn Roach (wonder what ever happened to them???).

The school block was refaced, the lounge and the kitchen upstairs adjacent to the upper hall were built and the lighting was modernised; all was opened by 13th October 1963.

In 1982 Revd David Barter became the new Minister; Revd Dr Terry Griffith, the present incumbent, followed him in 1995.

We have now just completed another building project for Trinity, to again be ready to meet a new generation of believers and community needs. It seems that Trinity has a history of "face lifting" its buildings to make them suitable for changing times and needs. This has always been achieved with a combination of loans, pledges and fundraising.

It is encouraging to know we are following in the footsteps of other believers, to keep Trinity as an acceptable Witness for the Glory of God through his Son in this place.

A presence of Baptist Believers have met in Bexleyheath ever since those early days nearly 200 years ago, living alongside and serving the community through wars, depressions, highs and lows since those early days of the 1800s.  Trinity Baptist Church is a church with a history, a church with a future here among the people of Bexleyheath. Trinity has a history compatible with meeting the needs of changing times. The believers in Jesus Christ the Saviour, working within the power of His Holy Spirit and remaining in God's will, have always achieved it.