A timeline of events in the history of Cheltenham Evangelical Free Church
1877 – Rev. James Edward Walker leases a plot of land on Whaddon Lane, and erects a ‘portable’ church building. ‘The Church of Scotland, Whaddon Lane’ opens.
1880-81 – Oak Pulpit from ‘Old’ St Matthews Church installed and three manual pipe organ added
1911 – Rev. Walker dies
1912 – Committee of Management formed, building purchased from estate of Rev. Walker. Church named ‘The Walker Memorial Church’. Trust deed created based on Mr Walker’s doctrinal summary. Land purchased – had previously been leased.
1913 – Rev. F.W. Davis called to serve as the Minister. The singing of hymns introduced (250 copies of an unknown book purchased) and a regular Communion service begun.
1914 – Vestry Added
1916 – Licensed for weddings. The Bible given as a wedding gift is the church display Bible today
1920 – Electricity and Water supplied to the building
1922 – Church building enlarged – cost £1,000
1925 – Former church member and missionary Mr Fred Easton gives a talk on ‘Gospel Triumphs in Inland China’. He goes on to see much more blessing and in 1927 publishes ‘A bit of Old China’ – an account of God’s blessing on the work in Shensi province.
1925 – Further buildings added – cost £400
1926 – Rev F.W. Davis killed in Rotherham train disaster. ‘A tragic blow from which the fellowship never truly recovered’
1929 – Rev E.J. Poole-Connor called to serve as Minister
1932 – Rev H. Russell called to serve as Minister.
1933 – The question of having a church membership first raised
1936 – Rev. Norman Mortimore called to serve as Minister
1941 – Rev. Eric Maddock called to serve as Minister
1941 – Manse on Oakland Avenue purchased, total cost around £900. Sold in 1984.
1942 – ‘70 papers’ returned to Committee expressing desire to join church membership
1944 – Rev John Woodward-Court called to serve as Minister
1948 – New schoolrooms added costing over £900. Sunday School still in the hundreds.
1950 – WW1 hero Brig.-Gen. F.D. Frost, C.B.E, M.C., called to serve as Minister
1953 – Rev. Maurice Smithers called to serve as Minister
1958 – The last of the original trustees, Mr H.J. Tilley, dies aged 82. He leaves one-third of his estate to the church, which largely finances vital repairs to the aging buildings.
1959 – Baptistry installed. Old pipe organ removed, replaced by ‘modern’ electronics.
1961 – Former missionary to India Rev. Bert Norman called to serve as Minister – paid on a part-time basis.
1963 – In a church meeting, a member moves that the description ‘An Independent Evangelical Church’ should be appended to the church name – motion carried.
1966 – 65 year-old former army evangelist Rev. H.H. Stickings called to serve as Minister
1967 – The church joins The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (F.I.E.C)
1969 – Rev. John Roberts called to serve as Minister – paid expenses only
1971 – Around 40 in the Sunday School – better numbers in the winter months!
1977 – One hundredth anniversary – name of the church changed to ‘Cheltenham Evangelical Free Church (Walker Memorial)’
1979 – Rev. John Carrick called to serve as Minister
1980 – ‘New International Version’ of the Bible trialled in public ministry. Not adopted – later the church moved to use the ‘New King James Version’.
1980s – Work begins to move the government of the church away from management by committee (Church Council) to the Biblical standard of Deacons and Elders. Church resigns from F.I.E.C.
1987 – New building completed. Cheltenham Bible Fellowship makes the new building its regular home for bi-monthly Bible preaching rallies
1993 – Torch Trust for the visually impaired makes the new building its regular home for monthly meetings
1994 – Rev. Mark Gladwell called to serve as Minister. Shortly afterwards, first Deacons and Elders appointed and ‘ordained’.
2002 – Pastor Gladwell leaves and the ministry is supplied by visiting preachers, co-ordinated by Elder Don Ingles.
2008 – Jonathan Hunt appointed as ‘Preaching Elder’, joined by David Price a year later.
2010 – New building extended with facilities for the disabled.
2011 – Plans underway for modernised trust deed and constitution. Two Sunday services continue, with a weeknight Bible Study and Prayer Meeting and a twice-monthly Ladies’ Meeting. Jonathan Hunt resigns as Preaching Elder to accept the Pastorate of Morton Baptist Church, Thornbury.