Members of Bilton Evangelical Church past and present celebrated its 40th birthday at the weekend.
The church first started in congregation members’ homes and a local school back in 1974. But the modern, packed building on Sunday was a far cry from these humble beginnings, as the church marked the occasion with a special service and, as is customary at Christian events, free food.
“We had a great day on Sunday” said Paul Rogers, pastor of the church.
“It was great to see old friends who had travelled from all over the country, as well as our own folks.
“The whole church family was well represented with our eldest member, who is 97, cutting the birthday cake.”
BEC, as the church is affectionately known, adopts the motto “loving God, loving people, and transforming communities”.
Karon Newton, a long-term member of the church, said: “That’s been the heart of the church over the past 40 years, to make sure that we’re doing something that will impact the life of the church and the local community.”
The diversity in age at Sunday’s celebration service, with attendees ranging from two weeks to 97 years, is matched by the range of community work the church does.
Mr Rogers said: “We run activities for all ages, for people of all faiths or none.
“There are parents and toddlers, children’s clubs, youth activities, adults groups and a seniors club.”
“We also regularly visit most of the local schools, probably working with up to a thousand adults and young people every week.
“We see ourselves very much as being rooted in our community, and are committed to being here for the long haul.”
The church, which also meets on the Cawston and Admirals estates, recently refurbished its central building on Main Street in Bilton.
The half million pound upgrade to the church’s facilities make it better suited for community activities, and highlights BEC’s future commitment to the community.
“We are very optimistic about the future” said Mr Rogers.
“Our desire is to continue to serve our locality, expressing the love of God both practically and through a reasonable explanation of Christian belief.
“In an age where there are many challenges to faith, we hope in some small way to provide a credible demonstration of what it means to follow Jesus Christ in the 21st century.”