The History of Guildford Baptist Church
Guildford Baptist Church began in 1824, when a group of Calvinist Dissenters began meeting in a room in Quarry Street. By the mid-nineteenth century this room was too small, so a chapel was built on Commercial Road, and later extended as more land was bought.
By the 1960s, a bigger building was needed. David Pawson’s arrival in 1968 marked another period of growth in the Church. At that time, a Town Development Plan proposed that the Commercial Road site should be compulsorily purchased, so plans were drawn up and approved for a new Church building elsewhere. The Millmead Centre was opened in 1972, comprising a 500-seat Auditorium, meeting rooms, offices, a games hall, a lounge area and coffee bars.
After David Pawson’s departure in 1981, Bob Roxburgh, assisted by Justin Dennison, became Pastoral Leader. The Church experienced more growth under his leadership, leading to the decision to hold two morning services each week.
In 1990, Peter Nodding took over as Senior Pastor. Over the next few years, three congregations – Boxgrove, Onslow Village and Stoughton – were planted out of the Millmead Centre, meeting in local schools. It was during this time that the Church also became a more international community.
Our current Senior Pastor, Ian Stackhouse, arrived in March 2004. One of the Church congregations became an independent Church, whilst the other two re-joined worshippers at the Millmead Centre.
In March 2012, Guildford Baptist Church celebrated the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Millmead Centre. Building work was now well under way for the refurbishment of the premises to equip it for the 21st century.
2020 marked the completion of the Millmead Centre’s renovations and extensions, and we reopened as we emerged from lockdown. We thank God for the journey He has taken us on over the past decade and are excited by the new ministries that have already developed. We have welcomed newcomers from across the globe, and our congregation has become increasingly intergenerational and multicultural.
Open Grounds Café opened in December 2020 and has enabled us to welcome folk from across the community, as we journey with them, build partnerships, and cultivate friendships. In many ways, it is a ‘window’ into the church and an introduction to the Gospel.
Ian’s vision remains for us simply to ‘be a church’. All that we do flows from who we are and our identity in Christ.