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For better and worse: Harold Wood church celebrates 75th anniversary

Rev David Banting at St Peter's church Rev David Banting at St Peter's church

Thursday, March 13, 2014
8:34 AM

It may have been built during one of the most turbulent periods in our history but a church has stood the test of time and last week celebrated its 75th anniversary.

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The final two bricks being put into place in 1939The final two bricks being put into place in 1939

More than 200 members of St Peter’s Church, Harold Wood, came together to celebrate the past, present, and future of the Gubbins Lane church.

Vicar David Banting said: “This is such a big occasion and such a special time for all of the members of the church as well as the entire community.”

Works began on the building in 1938 but the project wasn’t finished until 1939 - as the world faced the outbreak of the Second World War.

Almost 100 children visited in during the February half term, for Starquest, a children’s holiday club teaching them about Christianity.

Eileen Knowles has been a member of the church since 1956Eileen Knowles has been a member of the church since 1956

One of the organisers, Matt Simper, said: “We told the children about the 75th anniversary to see what they knew about the time it was built.

“It’s fantastic that even though we were on the brink of war, the people of Harold Wood were preparing their future.”

But the story of the church actually began years earlier as a simple iron building, built in 1871, in the nearby Church Road.

And it wasn’t until 70 years later that it made the permanent move to Gubbins Lane, at a cost of £9.000. and with the help of contributions from many of its congregation, including millers, brothers James and George Matthews.

As a member of the church fellowship since 1956, when she moved to the area as a child, Eileen Knowles has been with St Peter’s for most of her life.

She said: “I was born into a Christian family and so being apart of the community has always been very important to me and I’ve just learnt and grown as a Christian through the church’s encouragement.

“I came here as a child and progressed through the groups, as have our children and now our grandchildren. Passing on our faith through the generations is important to us as parents.”

Then as part of National Marriage week last month, St Peter’s contributed to the Big Promise, a Guiness World Record which saw as many people renew their vows at the same time as possible.

Church centre manager, Emily Atnew, said: “It was really lovely to hold the day for some really lovely couples and to take part in the nationwide event.”

But the real celebrations kicked off last week at the church when the swinging Jive Aces, who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent, paid a visit, bringing their trombones and trumpets.

Mr Banting said: “People really enjoyed celebrating the day the church was built. The church has helped so many of our members and here is to the next 75 years of St Peter’s.”

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