A short history of Shirley Hall
The origins of Shirley Hall appear to be wrapped up within the Brethren Movement, which started in approximately 1820, in both England and Ireland. Although it was the culmination of many seeking Christians desire to establish a church which was simple, true to Scripture in its practises and free from the traditions of men, it is generally associated with J.N. Darby, himself an Anglican at the time.
The simple meeting together on ‘The Lord’s Day’, to break bread, hear the preaching of the Word, all within a framework of freedom to allow the Holy Spirit to move, was characteristic of the movement. The rapid growth of Brethren Halls, or Gospel Halls as they were often called, testify to the very real desire amongst Christians for an authentic New Testament Church expression in their day.
This is not an article about the Brethren movement which spawned many fine bible teachers, men and women missionaries, works amongst children and young people and generally made an important contribution to the modern day church. Without the Brethren, there would be no Shirley Hall.
In 1898, a hall was erected for worship and meeting. These halls were often called ‘Tin Tabernacles’, and provided a basic room for Christian activities. In 1901 the building was registered as a place of worship. From it other Gospel Halls were established in a church planting move. Both the churches in Leighton Rd, Bush Hill Park and Brigadier Free Church had their origins in plant outs from Shirley Hall.
Just after the Second World War, a crusade was held on the area where the current war memorial stands, and records show that many people became Christians at that time.
We ourselves, as a fledgling house church, used their baptistery to baptise a number of people, some of whom are still in the church.
Although numbers diminished over the years, on entering the building there is a sense of this having been a place where much prayer and preaching of the Word has taken place. In handing over the premises to us, we have a sense of continuing the same pattern of proclaiming the Gospel as those who have faithfully gone before us.
It is our intention to bring the building up to date, repair and renew where necessary, although it is generally in good condition.
A building is not a church. The church is the people redeemed by the blood of Christ. We believe that Shirley Hall is a tool that God has given, to enable us to proclaim the message of Christ and His love. May we use it wisely.