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Anglicans and Baptists swap buildings in Bristol

02 June 2023

B&A Church and Horfield Baptist Church, Bristol, which are swapping

B&A Church and Horfield Baptist Church, Bristol, which are swapping

ANGLICAN and Baptist churches in Bristol have exchanged premises for good.

B&A Church, part of the Bishopston Team Ministry, and the Horfield Baptist Church are just a few hundred metres apart in Bristol; but the Anglican church had outgrown its existing premises, and the Baptist congregation felt that its own premises had become a burden on its mission.

‘So, what made you think we need a bigger church’

After talks throughout last year, and approval from the diocese of Bristol and the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the exchange went ahead on 31 March. The Team Vicar of Bishopston, the Revd Wayne Massey, described it as “an amazing act of grace”. He said that both congregations had asked themselves: “Who needs what for the next season?

“There was a huge amount of prayer on both sides. And, for the Baptist church community, some of whom have been worshipping there all their lives, it was an amazing act of grace. But knowing the church was going to another local Christian community was reassuring for many people.”

In a post on her church website, the Baptist minister, the Revd Sarah Philpott, said: “This suite of buildings is beautiful and the premises extensive, but they are no longer suited to our mission to and ministry in our local community. Instead of enabling our call to tell people about Jesus, this building has become a burden on our time, money, and resources.

“We made a commitment as we searched that whatever was to become of the church, our building should be used to the Glory of God and for the furthering of the Kingdom of God. This may have seemed rash at the time — we might have benefited from selling part or all of the premises to be developed to bring in some much-needed cash — but the building was a gift to us from previous generations who have given generously for the work of God in the area.”

Members of a working party decorate and make repairs in the former Baptist church on the day of exhange

B&A Church had previously had several church buildings, as it had been formed from the amalgamation of two parishes some years ago. The building that has been exchanged with the Baptist Church was formerly a church hall but had been renovated as a centre of worship.

The B&A congregation has been growing rapidly in recent years. Currently, around 300 people attend worship and a further 300 attend what it calls “Little church”: ten groups that meet throughout the week, including a food pantry, youth work, a Ukraine welcome hub, and a Hong Kong welcome.

The building swap means that all the activities can now be held in a single building, instead of being split across locations. Little-church groups have already moved into the former Baptist church, but building work needs to take place before the Sunday congregation moves in this autumn.

Mr Massey said that the building swap was a positive sign to the people of Bristol of “two church families working together for the big picture, serving their community”.

B&A Church still has one other church site. It is considering how it can best be used for both worship and community use.

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