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Empangeni Baptist Church

History - Growing the church PDF Print E-mail
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The church then called Rev Patrick Hams and Mrs Joan Hams. They arrived with their son, Lloyd, on 3rd April 1973 and were accommodated in flat 413 Hamilton Lodge. They later moved to their house at 5 Addison Street. The induction service was held on 15 April 1973 and Rev Theo Pass officiated.


Rev Hains felt strongly that the Public Hall was not an appropriate venue for church services. Being the local cinema, tawdry advertisements and the refuse of the previous evening's entertainment was not a suitable place in which to worship Almighty God. In February 1974 services were commenced at the Junior Primary School Hall, the venue being acquired with Mrs Corbette's help. There was an average attendance of 37, and 7 people, including Dr Leon van den Berg, were baptized in a service attended by 100 people. There were now 8 — 9 musicians including Merle Hancock, Ruth Prescott, Beryl Johannsen, Sandra and Beverly van Rooyen, Mariaan Smit, Lorna and Lyn van Aardweg and Siegie Reavell. A choir was commenced under the leadership of Ruth Prescott. A highlight of the year was a week of ministry on Revelation, led by Rev M. Gordon. On 17 August 1974 a successful church picnic was held at Siyaya Beach, Mtunzini. In January, deacon Ron Eardley became the first theological student from Empangeni Baptist Church.


An urgency to have their own Baptist place of worship had gripped the hearts of the growing congregation and a building committee reserved a site in Panorama (corner of President Swart and Apollo Avenue) on the edge of town. When the borough was not prepared to let the church have this site at a special price, but insisted on the full purchase price of R25 000.00 the church had to forego this expensive she. After a day of prayer and fasting, God graciously led the committee to investigate cheaper alternative sites on the corner of President Swan Avenue and Cassia Road i.e. lots 1997 and 1998. These were secured on 26 September 1976 for R500.00. Les Wilmot, with the help of the Leisegang vehicles, soon organized forty loads of sand to make the plots less swampy. As a result of the Councilâ's rejection of architect Peter Moirâ's plans, an apse and foyer were added to the church. In January 1978 building operations commenced with much joy and thanks to God. In April a Bible was placed in the foundation of the Church to remind the congregation that only God’s Word could be the foundation of a Baptist Church.


Meanwhile, the life of the church progressed. The congregation had increased to 70 members and 7 baptisms were conducted in the Wilmotâ's swimming pool at 37 Fynn Crescent. In April 1978 Thelma Winterbach became the editor of the church magazine "Tell-It"; previously Rev Hains had edited the newsletters. The youth work at this time was exceptionally strong with Brian Cockwell, John Pitout and some High School teachers being very active.


On 12 August 1978 the church was officially opened by Hughie Bissett and Lee Wilmot. Rev Dave Meaker gave a challenging sermon. The van Rooyens had donated the carpets and stage curtains, the Hodgsons the electricals, and the Wilmots the bricks for the paving at the back of the church. Hughie Bissett had built the pulpit and John Pitout had laid out the gardens. The program made the reason for success clear, The building of our Church has been a team effort. One of the highlights of the year was the Christmas Play produced by the Sunday School and directed by Thelma Winterbach.

A highlight of 1979 was the family camp at Nyala Game Ranch, which Rev Leigh Robinson led. The deacon's retreat was held at Kwanzimela where the teachings of the booklet "Surrender and Serve" were shared. Other memorable events were the stewardship instructions of D. Mac of the USA and Dr Johannes van der Colff's ministry based on Psalm 51.

The very first youth camp, that later became summer camp in Kimberly, was during the July holidays. Mom, dad and Kevin Beaumont took a group of us with a combi to camp. In the early morning on the way there, Kevin was driving and rest of us decided to have a time of prayer, all of us closed our eyes, including Kevin; it was only by the grace of God that we arrived at camp in one piece and at the right place.
Debbie Hodgson.


On 17 December 1979 Rev Hams left Empangeni to accept a call to Bethany Baptist Church in Verwoerdburg.


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