Union Church

A brief survey of 122 years of Christian Witness
On February 4th, 1836, eleven men and five women came together in prayer, each one professing his or her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, believing that it would be for their mutual advantage to form themselves into a Christian com-munity, to be nominated the Church of Christ assembling for Divine Worship in Hanwell. These sixteen friends were sensible that their speech and conduct should become regulated by the Word of God. They were to be Christians living in but set apart from the world, exercising an influence for good.

A building was rented from Bro. Thompson at a rental of fifteen pounds per year, he to keep the place in good repair. The chief business transacted at business meetings appears to have been the administration of a fund known as the Samaritan Fund. Sister Betsy Bates seems to have been in special need. ” Voted. A bottle of wine to Betsy Bates ” from the funds.

A set of Rules was drawn up in May 1842, one of which reads : ” We solemnly declare to meet together uniformly and constantly for worship, and not to be at liberty to go to other places, or loiter at home when our own place is open for Worship “. (Verb. sap. P.G.K.)

A Statement of Accounts was rendered in May, 1842, totalling £3-4-8 with special reference to the cost of candles.
It appears that a Mr. Campbell was appointed the first Minister in December, 1841, after a period of pastoral oversight by Bro. Thompson. An extract from the letter sent to him dated December 1st, 1841, is worth quoting :—

". . . With regard to pecuniary matters. Sir you are fully aware how we stand, nor need we remind you of the inevitable consequences resulting from the Preaching of the Cross in so populous and demoralised a neighbourhood. We have no more to allege."

The current St Mary’s Cathedral building is highlighted in the adjacent photograph. The majority of the church (which now does not exist) is seen in the washed section of the illustration.
In 1867 it was decided to invite the Rev. G. L. Lowden to the pastorate, his stipend to be receipts from pew rents. There were 16 members. By 1868 it was felt that a larger and permanent place of worship was necessary. The foundation stone was laid on October 1st, 1868, and the new church in Westminster Road was opened for public Worship March 18th, 1869. It cost approx. £2,800. Membership increased from 16 to 242, and schoolrooms were built in 1878 ” to teach members of the Church and congre¬gation to read and write “. In the early years of the new century it is interesting to note that ” large numbers of people gathered on Sunday afternoons for an hour : Praise led by an efficient orchestra “. From 1912 a Day School was run by the Education Authority in the School Hall. Mrs. Carberry, who taught there, is still in membership. By 1922 the ” Gas Age ” passed and the ” Electric Era ” dawned and the church was renovated in its honour. By 1923 the £25 organ, showing signs of senile decay, was removed and a new one at a cost of £500 put in its place. In 1924 the Church Magazine came into being, and, I am happy to say, still continues. In 1936 the centenary of the Church was celebrated by a supper at which four tables represented 25-year periods with appropriate costumes and lighting—the first with candles, the second with oil lamps, the third with gas (fish-tail jets and incan-descent burners) and the fourth with electricity. A centenary post-card produced by Mr. G. W. F. Ellis is copied on page 12. from a block generously supplied by him.

So one could continue, for 122 years is a long time and much happened which there is not space to record. It was in many ways a sad day when, owing to the state of the fabric of the building we were forced to consider a new place for Worship. Yet I cannot but feel that we have been Divinely guided in the new venture. From the day we joined forces with our friends of the old Boston Road Church everything has worked together for good. Our two Churches, spiritually, have fused almost imper¬ceptably and there exists a fellowship that already seems to have been in existence for years. Yet it was only on March 6th, 1959, that the merger was effected.
As I write this, work on the new Church is well in hand and we are looking forward with joy to the opening ceremony which should be in the early days of March, 1961. Let me close this brief resume by quoting from an old Membership Card dated 1882 : —

"Read the Word of God daily. Cultivate private prayer. Let your life be consistent with your love to Christ. Be regular and punctual in your attendance at all services. Attend the Lord’s Table at least once a month. Take a personal interest in all the work of the Church. Contribute as The Lord has blessed you. Make it one aim in life to be the means of winning at least ONE soul for Jesus."