50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE SHREWSBURY CHURCH
Shrewsbury Elder Peter Bayliss addressing the congregation
19th December 2015
Members and friends of the Shrewsbury Seventh-day Adventist Church gathered together on Sabbath 19 December to celebrate fifty years of Christian witness in the town of Charles Darwin's birth. The day included two elements, a morning carol service and an afternoon programme focusing on the history and future of the church. Both were presided over by the head elder, Peter Bayliss, who has served and given leadership to the Shrewsbury church for most of the time that it has been in existence. Altogether eight ministers were present, including the current pastoral team of Nenad Didara, Jeremy Johnson and Adriana Fodor, as well as three former ministers of the church, Len Lane, Richard Vine and Roger Neal. Welsh Mission President John Surridge was pleased to witness the event and give encouragement to those who have worked so hard to keep a presence in Shrewsbury over the years. Another minister, Kendall Down, played the trumpet in a musical group which included organist Jean Lane, flautist Iris Thompson, and guitarist Daniel Vine.
With more years of experience in Shrewsbury than anyone else present Peter Bayliss gave a fascinating account of the history of the church, from its humble origins above a chip shop to the acquisition of the present site and the construction of a building which maximised the use of the space available. Located in a flood plain the church was carefully designed to resist the ingress of water and Peter recounted one occasion when, following heavy rains, the water reached right up to the bottom of the front door but did not enter. More important than the building though are the many people who have been part of the Shrewsbury church family over the years and Peter went on to list many such people who have gone on to be a powerful witness in many different parts of the world.
Towards the end of the programme Duncan Bayliss, Peter's son, presented some thoughtful ideas on the future of the church. After analysing the nature of Shrewsbury itself – the quiet and stable county town of Shropshire – Duncan posed some challenging questions regarding the nature and mission of the Adventist church in such a setting. He concluded, "We are here to speak the truth and to stand up to opposing views, such as evolution and consumerism. We can do this by demonstrating a holistic approach to Christianity, including Sabbath rest, a healthy lifestyle, and our belief in a kingdom of God which will never end."
As with all such events, much of the success depended on the fine detail. Supporting Peter's carefully crafted services were the beautiful flowers, candles, and decorations provided and installed by local member Veronica Hill, and an excellent buffet lunch provided by the ladies of the church. The members of the Shrewsbury church look forward to a continued witness in this area and ask for your prayers as we seek to share the gospel here until Jesus returns.