A BRIEF SUMMARY OF OUR HISTORY
Over Baptist Church is an evangelical church associated with the Grace Baptist Association of churches (West Anglia).
Over is a village situated about 10 miles Northwest of Cambridge. The village has around 1250 homes and a population of roughly 3200 people. Although our church is now more than 275 years old, we believe the Christian message is just as important today as ever. Here is a brief history:
After the 16th century Protestant Reformation, Cambridgeshire became a stronghold of the emerging Puritan movement, and Over was no exception, with the majority of men from this then large village of c. 1,000 inhabitants signing the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643 to indicate their support for the cause of Parliament against the policies of King Charles I.
With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 it can be reasonably assumed that a large proportion of the village became Nonconformists (or Dissenters), separating themselves from the Church of England. Certainly by 1737 there was an Independent (or Congregationalist) church in Over, and out of this may later have arisen a more specifically Baptist congregation who were responsible for the building of the present chapel in c. 1810 (with later extensions).
Among notable ministries during the following two centuries were those of George Prudden (1810-37) who saw no fewer than 76 people baptised on profession of faith in Jesus, George Bird (1924-32) and Percy Crees (1933-44), both of whom came from London’s West Ham Tabernacle, and Norman Foster (1961-2000), our longest-serving pastor.
A photograph of George Bird that we've recently acquired from his grandson.
The trust deed of 1830 makes it clear that the church was Calvinistic (or Reformed) in its doctrine, emphasising the supreme authority of the Bible, and salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. It is also likely that for most of its history it was a Strict Baptist fellowship; that is, admission to the Lord’s Table was restricted to believers who had been baptised after their conversion.
Today Over Baptist Church would be regarded as a fairly mainstream evangelical Baptist church, very similar to many other fellowships in Great Britain.
HISTORY 1737 - 1937
Bi-centenary celebrations were hosted at the church buildings on 20th May 1937.
A history of the church was written for the occasion, and we've scanned the documents for you to read and enjoy. They're posted at the end of this article.
Here is a flyer from the time advertising the meetings.
MORE RECENT HISTORY
Like most Churches, the Over Baptist Church has had its ups and its downs since 1937.
One factor in it's stability in more recent years was the fruitful 40 year ministry of Norman Foster which started in 1960. We have most recently been pastored by David Smith since 2004.
In September 1984, the building was included on the list of Grade 2 listed buildings.
During the late 1980's there was a growing feeling that the activities of the Church were outgrowing the facilities and space available. In November 1988, the Church Members appointed an Action Committee to consider a bigger and better kitchen, improved toilet facilities and additional small classroom accommodation.
A plot of land adjacent to the rear of the building was purchased for an extension and, using self build where possible, the plans took shape and funds were raised so that the total project was completed and officially opened on 20th February 1993.
A flyer for the occasion is reproduced here.
In the mid 2000's there was a feeling among the Membership that the pews on the ground floor should be replaced with chairs. This would make for a far more versatile worship area. A planning application for this was submitted in 2007 and was refused.
A further application was made in 2014 which was granted. Work then proceeded on removing the majority of the pews and replacing them with the red upholstered chairs that remain today.
Below are before and after pictures.
OUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE
We want to be a growing family church for all ages.
We want to be a Bible-based, Christ-centred and joyful church family.
We want to be a church where everyone feels welcome and involved.
We want to be a church family that works in and for our community.
We want to share the gospel with those who don’t believe on Jesus yet, so that they can be saved and brought into the family.
We want the Over Baptist Church to be so healthy that in the future we are able to help other churches in the area.
It’s a big vision but we worship a very big God!
A written history 1737 - 1937
A history of the church was written for the occasion of the church's bi-centenary celebrations in 1937. We've scanned the documents for you to read and enjoy.