Chenies Baptist Church - History
R M Fursdon, Minister of Chenies Baptist Church from 25th March 1906 to August 1940
Chenies Baptist Church has been a place of Christian worship for over 250 years, and today continues to be a place to encounter Jesus Christ and to learn what it means to find faith in him and to live a life patterned on his life.
In 1760, an independent Christian Fellowship was formed in Green Street, Chorleywood, in a room specially prepared for the purpose. In 1773, the congregation had leased a former orchard at the east end of the village and the chapel was built in 1779. In 1794 the baptistery was dug inside the chapel. Today, people continue to confess their faith by going through the waters of this historic baptistery. In 1799, the front of the meeting house was taken down and the building extended by 12ft to the south-west. A new façade was built, with one round-arched window either side of a central doorway and a row of three similar windows on the first storey, giving light to the gallery. The pulpit and benches date from the late 19th century. The vestry was extended in 1833 and a schoolroom was built over it in about 1850. The front porch dates from 1838.
In 1999 the outside toilet was replaced and extended now providing a modern kitchen, prayer room, two toilets and a further toilet for the disabled. The current building has all the charm of what is considered by some to be the most attractive of the Baptist houses in the county as well as offering modern amenities to the local community. The last addition to the building took place in 2010 when the Sun Room was built to the rear of the church. The beautiful sunny aspect of the room, overlooking the Chess Valley, is greatly appreciated by members and the local community.
Chenies Baptist Church was originally linked to the Baptist Church in St Albans, but by 1791 it had itself become a mother church and helped to establish Baptist churches in the surrounding villages of Chipperfield, Bovingdon, Flaunden and Mill End. In 1850, church members living in Sarratt decided to build their own church, which was completed in 1855. Sadly Sarratt Baptist Church closed for worship in 2007. The cross from Sarratt Baptist was symbolically given to Chenies Baptist Church at the Good Friday service in 2007 as a sign of the historic link between these two churches.
In 1851, an ecclesiastical census reported that Chenies Baptist attracted 120 worshippers for morning worship, 280 attended afternoon worship and Sunday school and 115 attended evening worship.
Chenies Baptist became a member of Baptist Union of Great Britain in March 2002 and enthusiastically engages in Churches Together in the Chess Valley joining in prayer and worship with Methodists, Anglican and Roman Catholics during the year. The church community is lively, committed and outgoing. It welcomes all members of the community.