Struggling church finds new hope
Ceylon Baptist Church in Eastbourne was close to shutting its doors for good in 2009 - but seven years on it has bought a new building and is excited about its future
With only a handful of elderly members, Ceylon faced the unfortunate reality of closure in 2009 - but a sense of God's purpose made them cling on.
The church had been forced to sell its building six years before this point and with money and members decreasing, the odds were stacked against them. In a final bid to keep the church together, its members decided to use the last of its money to call a new minister. They had just enough money to cover two years of full time ministry.
Freddie Brookes, the church’s new minister, said, 'Early 2010 I accepted the call and on the 1st May started a journey of faith with my new church family. We decided to change the name to 'New Hope' because we believed God was giving us new hope.'
Freddie feels the change began as attitudes changed. ‘One man said to me the 'new style' wasn't his cup of tea but he knew it was change or die.’ he said. ‘Some were not prepared to start the journey but most did. So this small band of believers showed great character and courage, which I found humbling.'
New Hope has gone from a place of wilderness and wondering to having a place of worship and mission
The church has faced many difficulties since then, but has remained hopeful. 'It was not easy, but five years later we are still able to finance full time Christian ministry. We have seen growth, we have baptised a few and we have noticed the average age falling. '
During Easter this year, the church was able to buy a new building, an encouraging and exciting step.
'It was an old social club.’ Freddie said. ‘16 Beach Road: We have moved in but there is a lot of work that needs doing to modernise it bring the place up to scratch. It is also in the very part of Eastbourne that God placed on our hearts three years ago. So thank God, New Hope has gone from a place of wilderness and wondering to having a place of worship and mission.'
New Hope has big plans for the new building. 'Our intention is for the building to be used every day as much as it's possible.' he said. 'We intend to reach out to the local people with a desire to see growth in real terms i.e. Non church people coming to faith in Christ.'