A history timeline

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 anniversaryname 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.