A brief history of ‘The Terrace’
In the 1960s, David & Edna Morgan became unhappy with the teaching they were receiving in their local church. Through the ministry of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones in London and Rev Dr Leslie Land in Leicester, they were taught the doctrines of grace.
He and his wife then told friends and family that “We owe Rugby this type of ministry– Rugby needs to hear it.”A series of meetings then started at Cawston Farm for Bible study and prayer. After a while,it was felt that the Lord was leading the group to start a Church in Rugby.
In 1964, they were able to buy a former Methodist chapel. The restorationof the building began and after much hard work,it was ready for use. On Saturday, 7th October 1967 the opening service of the Rugby Evangelical Free Church took place and the next day, Dr Leslie Land preached at the first service of REFC. There was a great sense that God was in this place and those present were meeting with Him.
The Church was formally constituted at a Covenant Service on Thursday, 3rd October 1968, when 37 members publicly signed the Church Covenant. Since the Church was opened over 370 people have been through the membership of the Church.
The Rev Kenneth Howard was the first pastor of the new church from April 1968 until December1971.
Pastor Peter Jeffery began a 14-yearministry at the church in August 1972 which was exceedingly fruitful.
The first Church Meeting was chaired by Peter Jeffery in October 1972 when members approved the first part of the Constitution. From these early days, the church has appointed both Elders and Deacons with remits as set out in Scripture.
A Sunday School was started and midweek Bible Study and Prayer Meeting was held on Thursday evenings. Other meetings for women and young people were also begun. A Missionary Working Party to collect, sort and send clothes to the Philippines and Portugal was also begun and still continues.
The most fruitful period of Pastor Jeffery’s ministry followed his return from the Bala Ministers’ Conference in June 1979. In July, he shared with the Church on a Thursday evening his burden that the Church was lifeless and that few were being convertedbecause there were few unconverted people at the services. He urged upon the Church the message of Isaiah 62:6-7; “You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest…”
Within a very short time, people started arriving at Railway Terrace through all kinds of circumstances and from every sort of background, and over the next 15 months,God graciously gave to the Church the encouragement of many conversions. The Holy Spirit seemed to be extraordinarily at work in those times, experiencing a foretaste of revival.
The church was full to capacity and as itcould not increase the size of the building because of the constraints of our site, it was decided to plant new churches. Ultimately, three Churches were planted in the Midlands. In 1982 a Church was planted in Long Buckby where Clive Goulden was called to be its first pastor. Sadly, this church failed to flourish and closed in the late 1980s.
Later a Church in Leamington was planted where two of the Rugby Elders – David Arnold and Brian Jarvis – became two of the first Elders there and Pastor Selwyn Morgan was called to the pastorate. The opening service took place on Saturday, 23 March 1985. A new Church was then set up in Banbury founded by friends who lived in Banbury but had been travelling into Rugby every Sunday. Also,Roger Coole went from Rugby to pastor a Church in Town Hill, Swansea and he later accepted a call to pastor a Church in Australia.
On Sunday, 23rd March 1975 the first baptismal service was held at Railway Terrace when eight baptisms took place. Throughout the 50 years over 200 baptisms have taken place within the fellowship of the Church and many of the candidates subsequently became, or were already, members of the Church.
Within two years of Pastor Jeffery’s arrival, membership of the Church had risen from 42 to 76, along with an increasing concern for evangelism, both within the Church through the preaching ministry, and by taking the Gospel message into the town.
From this time, the Church’s evangelism developed in a number of different ways. Door-to-door visiting began in 1973 with 750 homes around the church being visited, and in the same year,a ministry to Senior Citizens began under the leadership of Gordon Shaw who in 1982 became Pastoral Worker, assisting Peter Jeffrey. For many years from 1975 until well into the 21stcentury an Open Air service was held in the town centre.
A children’s and young people’s work was begun and developed into a considerable evangelistic work among the families on the Brownsover and Overslade estates. To support this work, the Church purchased its first minibus in October 1974. Hundreds of children have been through Sunday School and Bible Clubs over decades. All these initiatives were commenced during Peter Jeffery’s time in Rugby.
The Church was exactly four years without a Pastor, during which time a wide range of preachers, including Pastors from other Churches, retired Pastors, itinerant preachers, students and laymen, were invited to give ministry at Railway Terrace.
It is a matter for gratitude to God that between Pastor Jeffery’s departure in September 1986, and the decision in June 1989 to appoint his successor, members at Railway Terrace remained loyal to the fellowship. Only two families left during this period, work havingtaken them to other parts of the country.
Early in 1989, Pastor John Grindell, of Bethel Evangelical Church, Coventry, came to give a well-attended series of Bible studies on Thursday evenings. He was subsequently called to be our pastor. Pastor Grindell began his ministry in September 1989, having moved to Rugby with his wife Fran and daughter Anna to live in the Manse in Haswell Close. In the first three years of his ministry, a number of newcomers, including several elderlyfriends and young adults, became regulars at the Sunday services. In 1992, during his ministry,we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Church.
In September 1999 a new ministry which came to be called Terrace Tots was begun as a service and outreach to parents, childminders and young children. This has been a valuable addition to our ministry and still continues strongly.
Tim Atkins became Assistant Pastor to John Grindell for about three years,and left to become Pastor of a churchin Sussex. He returned to Rugby and was for a time an Elder in the Church under Tom McConnell.
During those seven years of John’s pastorate,there were some problems in the Church. Several friends left the Fellowship, and divisions began to appear as people had different opinions regarding the future direction of the Church. In 2000 Pastor Grindell was called to minister at Swarland Evangelical Church in Northumberland.
During the period without a pastor, the Way Ahead ministry was started in June 2003 for those with learning difficulties and disabilities, meeting each month. This has always been well supported by members and friends of the church. Members come from local homes, independent living and their parental home and enjoy an hour of ministry appropriate to their abilities.
Pastor Tom McConnell came to preach for us in May 2005. The Elders and then all Church Officers met with Tom the following week. A Church Members’ Meeting was held on 4th July to consider a recommendation from the Elders that Tom McConnell be called to be the next pastor of this Church. It was at this meeting that the Church voted overwhelmingly to extend the call to him to be our next pastor. On 12th July 2005, Tom McConnell accepted the call to the pastorate. After a wait of 7 years of prayer and seeking the Lord for a pastor, God’s providential plans unfolded in just six weeks.
He commenced his ministry on Thursday, 11th August 2005. The Lord blessed his ministry and a number of people were converted and baptised. During this time, Alan Cartwright and Dan Dwelly studied for the ministry at WEST and are still in Christian service.
In early 2013 Tom McConnell resigned from the Church.
In January 2012, Chi Wah Chow with his wife Lisa and their family came to Rugby. He became Pastor-in-Training working with Tom McConnell. The family left the church in February 2013. Pursuing his call to pastoral ministry, Chi Wah began serving the Lord at the Lilbourne Evangelical Chapel as an assistant to Pastor Colin Lamb. In September 2017 he was ordained as the full-timepastor.
Over the next months from early 2013,we relied upon visiting preachers who were of great blessing to us. Also,Graham Laywood, an Elder at Emmanuel, Leamington, acted as an invaluable advisor to the Elders. During this time, as an outreach, a Coffee Morning was started and in mid-2014, ‘Conversations’, classes to teach English as a second language, was begun. This ESOL group has about a dozen students meeting in two classes.
In 2013 we invited Ashley Jones, then Assistant Pastor at Caterham Baptist Church, to come and preach for us and we were blessed by his ministry, and he was invited back again. Following meetings with the Elders and Deacons with Ashley and his wife Kathryn, and then a Church Meeting in April 2014,a call to the pastorate was given to him. On his acceptance, he began his ministry amongst us on 17th August 2014. After a short while in temporary accommodation, Ashley, Kathryn and their sons, Geraint and Oscar moved into the Church Manse at 2 Haswell Close on 11th September. Ashley’s Induction Service was held on Saturday, 20th September 2014. It was led by Pastor Owen Milton, a long-standing family friend. Ashley’s senior pastor from Caterham, Pastor Keith Johns gave a word of commendation, read the Scriptures and then led in prayer,setting Ashley Jones apart to the ministry. The charge to Ashley was given by Graham Laywood, and Pastor Paul Watts preached God’s word.
Ashley is part of the leadership team for Explorers– a ministry to children 6-11 years old, while Kathryn heads up the Terrace Tots ministry.
In the past four years, the Church has seen many blessings, with increasing numbers attending and a growth in membership. The church has become affiliated to FIEC whose leadership had been so helpful and supportive in the recent interregnum. Family Church services have been held four times a year to reach out to the parents of children attending Terrace Tots and Explorers. A local Tamil congregation holds services on Sunday afternoons. Publicity banners on the front and a revamped website have been used to bring people into the church.
Beginning in 2016 with the removal of the church pews and purchase of new chairs for both the schoolroom and church, the chapel hall has been extensively refurbished in several stages to create a far more open, welcoming and useful multifunctional space both for worship and other church-related activities.
When the Church was started, the name of ‘Rugby Evangelical Free Church’ still had some meaning for ‘the man in the street’. In time, the Elders felt that half the name no longer had much Christian relevance. And so, it was agreed to adopt ‘The Terrace Church’ in 2017 as the ‘trademark’ or working name of the Church, the original title being kept as our legal name.
When the Church first opened in 1967 there was a desire to support missionary work which continues to this day.
From 1985 onwards the Church has been supporting its members Ian & Brenda Darke. After years working with children and students, took a year’s mission course and, through Latin Link, firstly worked with AGEUP (the equivalent to the UK Christian Union ministry in Peru). In due course, they moved to Costa Rica where they still live. Ian is Coordinator for Letra Viva, the Latin American Christian publishing network and for the past 11 years has been working with many others on the publication of a Latin American Bible Commentary. Since 2001, Brenda’s ministry has focused on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the church. As such she works with the Viva network of children’s ministries across Latin America, as a workshop leader in many countries, and in ‘hands-on’ involvement through their local Church with a support group ‘Uno en Cristo’ for disabled people.
Trevor Thomas was converted in 1980 under the ministry of Peter Jeffery. From 1991 after training for the Christian ministry with the European Mission Fellowship, he ministered in Spain. In 2000 Trevor and family returned to England and he returned to secular employment but continued preaching in many local churches.
In 2016 Trevor was called back into the ministry to pastor the at Towcester Evangelical Church.
As well as support for Ian & Brenda through Latin Link, we also support Helen F, working with People International in Central Asia and Cris & Monica Buzle, seeking pastoral opportunities in Romania. Other Christian ministries we support include the Slavic Gospel Association and Caring For Life, Leeds.
In many institutions, the future holds uncertainty. And in the Church, as much as we rely upon God in faith, we can all too easily look back with fondness rather than look forward with delight and expectation.
Having looked through the first 50 years of The Terrace Church, we can regard the past favourably in spite of the problems, and rest on that. This could bring us to live in the past and not strive, like Caleb, to move forward intothe future.
But what of the future? We should look forward in faith and hope that God would work as he has in the past. And we do this with excitement and confidence; we are told that ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever’knowing with confidence that ‘I the LORD do not change.’ (Heb. 13:8; Mal. 3:6). So we can go forward in confidence, placing all things before our Lord in prayer.
We do this in two ways:
- Through our doctrine
Society is rewriting the rules in many areas but we hold unswervingly to biblical doctrine and truth that should not change. We hold without embarrassment that the Word of God is God-breathedout. So we are to apply its truths to everyday life and let the Word stand as the standard by which we view all of God’s creation.
- Through our devotion
God’s Word has to be ‘earthed’ in how we live and connect with those around us.
- With those not yet Christians
We are to be all things to all men, so that we may win them to Christ. We must ensure that all we do honours the Lord. It means that this renovated building may continue to hold events which will move us out of our comfort zone. As William Carey once said, ‘Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.’ If we have received this Good News, what could we expect God to do as we attempt great things for him in reaching out with the Gospel to our neighbourhood?
- With our saved brothers and sisters
These last 50 years have held both delightbut also hurt and pain. So we must follow the ‘Golden Rule’ of Scripture as we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves. This includes God’s people, and Scripture exhorts us through the ‘One another’commands to serve others with devotion.
Our love for the Lord and each other will develop and disciple God’s people here; make us patient with young families and their children; welcome and embrace those who are ‘not like us’; open our hearts in prayer for corporate and personal revival in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We want The Terrace Church to reflect as best we can the redeemed in glory (Rev. 7:90). But as a fellowship, will we show our devotion to God in deepening our love and understanding of Him? A growth in depth as a Church is more important than numbers, so will we pray that God will develop this still further in The Terrace?
I thank God for bringing my family and myself to His people at The Terrace. I pray that we can participate with His people in the next 50 years of the life of the fellowship and play our part in His plan of Providence.
‘We’ll praise Him for all that is past, and trust Him for all that’s to come.’