Shinfield Church – A Recent History
Shinfield Baptist Church which started in 1908 faced doubt over its future in 2013 and considered closure as one option; however God had wonderful plans involving local churches partnering together. The church’s current pastor, Nathan Hunt, who was then training to be a pastor, moved to the church in the final year of his training and through him Shinfield developed a partnership with Wycliffe Baptist Church in Reading. In September 2015, ten adults and five children moved across from Wycliffe to become members of Shinfield Church. Other local christians, with the blessing of their fellowships, joined the revived church, sensing God’s call for them to participate in a renewed sense of local mission. Wycliffe provided some initial financial support to help with the rebirth of the church which became financially self-supporting within one year.
The reborn church continues to flourish. Original members were extremely welcoming to those who joined the church and new members demonstrated remarkable commitment to the church, sensitive to honour its people and culture. Both have been sensitive to build on the church’s existing strengths and character while being constantly open to new ideas such as when the church experimented with holding Sunday worship services in the Parish Hall.
The church has enjoyed making connections with local schools, parish council and businesses as well as partnering with the local Anglican church. Charity cafes, village Christmas carols, toddler groups, pancake races, holiday clubs, Alpha and local friendships are all key elements in the church’s programme to help people experience and grasp God’s love shared in Jesus. Members are active in local political, sports and musical groups as well as serving the community as school governors. The church is concerned to see Christ’s love and influence are felt in a village that is set to double in size in the next ten years. We pray continuously towards this purpose and have seen much fruit as God responds graciously to our prayers. While relationships remain the priority, during this time the church has also worked to improve the building fabric and management structure of the church, including installation of a phone and broadband service and IT system, appointing elders, developing safeguarding procedures and improving financial management and reporting systems.
God has given us many opportunities to serve the local community. To assist the church in helping it take more advantage of these, the church appointed Sallyann Hunt as Associate Pastor in September 2018 on a part time basis, overwhelmingly sensing God calling her to this role. Just as the church’s appointment of Nathan in 2014 was a financial step of faith that was more than provided for by God in the following years, so the associate pastor appointment, taking the church beyond its existing annual income was a carefully considered move to ‘walk by faith and not by sight.’ Because we believe the church has one Lord, we make it a priority to build good connections with the wider network of churches of all denominations believing that ‘all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’