Looking Back: New pastor marks 100 years of Baptist church

An early snap of the Olivet Baptist Church on Stanley Road.
An early snap of the Olivet Baptist Church on Stanley Road.
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My former colleague Steven Hewitt and members of Stanley Road Baptist Church are gearing up to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the baptist church in the West End.

Longtime Visitor readers will remember Steven as our sports editor from 2003 to 2009. Since leaving the paper, Steven followed his long time ambition to become a man of the cloth, and just last Saturday was inducted as pastor at the church. Congratulations to him!

His induction coincides with a series of events to mark the centenary, including an exhibition of old photos and a special community cafe where you can enjoy a delicious scone with jam and cream for only 50p (all welcome on weekdays 2pm to 4.30pm until September 27).

During 1912, it was felt there was a growing need for the Baptist cause in the West End. On July 28 1912 the first services were held at the Devonshire Hall (now home of More Music) and the church was formed on Wednesday, October 15 1913, after which the present site on Stanley Road was purchased.

Early in 1915 the church committee was told Devonshire Hall was no longer available so a temporary hall, the Olivet Baptist Church was opened on May 23 1915 on Stanley Road.

A new building was eventually opened in 1935. During the Second World War, the church hall was used as a receiving centre for evacuees.

Morecambe also had an influx of civil servants from London. Quite a few found their way to Olivet to teach, replacing local teachers on active service.

As the temporary building erected in 1915 was in danger of collapse because the foundations had been undermined by sea water, the church hall was rebuilt in 1982 at a cost of £44,000 and reopened in 1983.

Then in the early 1990s the Sion Baptist Church building, located on what is now The Visitor car park on Edward Street, was falling apart. This led to the merging of the two Baptist churches on September 25 1994 under one roof, the name being changed to Stanley Road Baptist Church.

Thanks to Sheila Winskel’s ‘History of Olivet Baptist Church’ for the information.