The Long Version
God is sovereign and in 1971 by His amazing grace He saved a lady who lived in Goodwood. She visited and was baptised at the Durbanville Baptist Church and it was here she worshipped under Pastor Don Holgate. He realised that it would be a wonderful means of outreach if a Bible Study could start in the Goodwood area and soon a meeting was begun in her home.
A few folk from the Durbanville Baptist Church joined in to support the work along with some invited neighbours and friends and soon a larger venue was needed. The group began evening services in the Goodwood Lutheran Church and a Sunday school also came into being. Later in 1972 Peter and Sheila Dewberry ac-cepted the call to serve the Lord and eventually a manse was purchased with the help of Durbanville and Bellville Baptist Churches.
After Peter and Sheila came we were able to hire the Seventh Day Adventist Hall in Cook St, Vasco and here the morning services began and the Sunday School met beforehand. In this hall there was a very old pedal organ and as one played the stool was inclined to slide back because of the slippery floor. Some years later we watched in horror as a visitor who had offered to play for us valiantly tried to keep playing as he slid further and further away from the organ. These were difficult days but also such happy days as we worked together as a body to establish the work in the area.
The church began work on the constitution and was finally completed and sent to the Baptist Union. The constitution was finally adopted at a church meeting held on 6 March 1977.To quote from a previous document “The important distinctives in this document were its reference to Elders (unusual for South African Baptists at this time), and its allegiance to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. The church was thus constituted as a reformed church in its doctrine and philosophy of ministry”. 35 members signed the founder member list.
God was at work and slowly but surely our numbers grew until it became necessary to consider our own building. Meetings were held with Durbanville Baptist and Bellville Baptist and we were encouraged to prayerfully consider purchasing our own property. Four plots of land were available in Anderson St, Goodwood which belonged to the Goodwood Methodist Church. An offer to purchase this land was accepted.
The land was zoned as residential and before it could be used for ecclesiastical purposes we had to put up a notice of our intention to build a church on this property. In the middle of the 4 plots was a telephone pole and it was on this pole that the “small” notice of intent appeared. We do not know if anyone ever noticed this but God once again in His sovereignty allowed this land to be purchased and plans were made and many discussions took place about finance etc and a builder appointed and eventually we had our own place of worship.
The ladies got involved in making curtains for the Sunday School rooms and for Peter’s study and in preparing the kitchen with all the needed cups etc. Under Peter’s ministry the work grew and it was with much joy that we sat under his ministry and studied the doctrines of grace. The baptistry was a small structure at the back of the building just in front of the kitchen and when a baptism took place Roger Ward faithfully took off the covering and filled it with water and warmed the water for those cold days. It was wonderful that we as a church could gather round the pool and watch as believers followed the Lord in baptism.
This small group of believers were busy as they tried to reach out to the community by doing door to door evangelism and also putting invitations into letter boxes. Many memorable church picnics were held and meals shared together at the manse and in members homes. Eventually the church camps began, the Sunday School grew and it became the custom for the Sunday School camp to spend the weekend at Simonsberg and parents and friends joined us for a picnic on the Saturday. I am sure many children remember the walk to the grave on the site, led by Denis Stephen and the scary stories! Of course not only scary stories were told but above all else we shared God’s word with the children and we thank Him for all who look back on those years and praise Him for their salvation.
Along the way because of church growth in the Anderson Street hall extra Sunday School rooms were needed and we were able to purchase a house right next door to the church building and a gateway was opened up in the fence and after some alterations were made eg installing small toilets for the little ones, we made good use of this building. It was named Dewberry House after Peter and Sheila who did such sterling work amongst us and so faithfully taught us and preached the Word. How we look back and thank God for all He did in those early days and it was with great joy that we were able to celebrate His goodness to us and publicly thank Him for 10 years.
For this celebration we borrowed the DRChurch in Vasco Blvd and enjoyed a meal together and the evening resounded with praise and thanks to our Sovereign God and Father who allowed this work to begin and grow and in the process grow us in Himself and his Word. We were rather stunned when in 1982 Peter announced that he felt the call to move on to another church, this time in the Durban area and it was with heavy hearts that we said goodbye to this faithful couple who had been such a blessing to us all and whom we dearly loved. God had allowed this work to come into being and HE is always faithful and encouraged us as we sent the call to Bernard Cartledge who was in Durban at that time .
1983 – 2000
On Bernard’s arrival, the church underwent some changes. We began to meet on a Saturday morning for prayer and Home Fellowship Groups (HGF) were started midweek. By 1983 the hall at Anderson Street had become too small for the meetings. Providentially, the AGS were also needing to move to a larger meeting place. After much prayer the decision was made, and the AGS graciously made us an interest free loan, which we began to pay off. Everybody pitched in to help, and the church family relocated. Our move into the new building was celebrated at a special thanksgiving service on the 10th of November 1984.
In the Lord’s grace, we paid the 10 year loan in seven years. The final payment was gifted back to us by the AGS as a gesture of thanksgiving and goodwill at another thanksgiving service in 1991. Ministries in the church continued to be blessed, as each member continued in fellowship and in exercising their gifts. Children’s worksheets were introduced to encourage younger members of the congregation to be interactively involved in the worship and the message. The HFG’s functioned as a nucleus for caring for one another practically and by prayer, as well as the active women’s ministry.
On a Friday, there was a meeting for the little ones (now called Treasure Hour), 10+ group, and Senior Youth. Treasure hour was finally suspended in 1994. The retired folk formed a group and began to meet as the Golden Oldies. The ladies held meetings once a term on a Saturday to try to reach out to the community. The numbers at Sunday School grew large, and a service was initiated to reach the non-church parents of these children: the “9:05”. A contingent of UCT students also joined the church, and was extended warm hospitality, becoming members of the family, entering into prayer meetings, HFGs and young adults group.
Bernard also introduced a Marriage Enrichment course, which was the subject of his thesis. This, and a later Couples Group started in 1993, proved to be a blessing to a lot of folk. The evening service had been used for teaching series, and we had been encouraged to invite folk into homes for tea afterwards once a month, when no tea was served in the hall. In 1995 the format was changed to a time of prayer and praise, held in the hall around the Lord’s table; with the idea of replacing the existing church prayer meeting. This eventually reverted to a teaching service again.
Other developments were the moms group, in 1994, soccer club, the In Touch Magazine, the outreach book table in Goodwood mall, a social concern committee, and an outreach committee, which is now the missions committee. The need for more elders had long been a matter of prayer since Stuart Cranna and Chris Nel who served as such moved on from GBC. Prayer was answered with the induction of Hylton Sumner in 1993, Colin Tomlinson came on board in August 1996 and R (Curly) Cuthbert in March 1998.
It was during 1998 that Bernard Cartledge accepted a call to minister at the Evangelical Free Church in Harrogate, UK. In the words of the elders report, “all the parties concerned soon became aware of God’s direction and we found common ground which enabled us to join together and say “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” to affirm this call to be from God. The Lord watched over the church family, who were blessed to have Colin and Curly in eldership, who sought the Lord’s will on a new pastor. Denzil Collins was the then church administrator, assisted by a godly group of deacons.
2000 – 2013
In 1999, Roland Eskinazi was called as pastor, and accepted. He came to us in January 2000, and did not take long to be grafted into the family. By this time, Curly had been called to assist in the work at Franschoek, and Colin Tomlinson was overseas in Turkey. With Roland’s encouragement, more nominations for elder were sought, and in early 2001 Aldred Genade became a “student pastor in training,” and later in the same year, John Whaits was elected as elder. In 2004 Dennis Stephen was added to their number, until he stepped down in 2009 due work commitments. In 2011 Winton Gibbs was elected to come alongside, and sadly Curly has recently had to re-locate to Melkbos.
Over the years, a number of men have been mentored as intern pastors. Each had a role in the young people’s ministry, but in the Lord’s providence, moved to other fellowships. Sybrandt de Swart, after being used of the Lord among us, went to minister at the newly formed Robertson Community Church, in 2005. GBC had a strong involvement in encouraging this fellowship, sending preachers, and helping them to constitute. The need for a full time youth pastor eventually became clear, and a call committee was set up in 2007. Carel Pienaar was called in early 2008, and we were delighted he joined our fellowship in June 2008.
The CY ministries had been undergoing a “re-build” approach, after a series of changes to Sunday services and Friday meetings had impacted the work. Carel continued the rebuild, as more changes were to come. Currently, the morning service is at 10:00am, with Sunday School classes for children age 3 to grade 7, run concurrently with ‘adult” bible classes, from 9:00am. This so that families could once more worship together and be under the ministry of the Word. Under his guidance, a teen bible study and teen meetings on a Sunday were started, to undergird the spiritual growth of the senior youth, who became a close-knit group.
The Friday junior youth grew in numbers again, and a youth camp was again viable. The young people were blessed by the Lord through His Word, and being encouraged to befriend each other, and their youth leaders. The Lord has led Carel to pursue ministry through involvement in bible teaching, and he went back to full time studies this year. Our Lord is sovereign, and His plan unfolded as He prepared and brought Andrew Gersbach among us as youth pastor.
We have always been committed to supporting missions, and from early days the fellowship committed to a missions budget. We have supported among others, the Bible Institute, the Baptist Seminary, Student Y.M.C.A., Scripture Union, and missionaries associated with our church family, including the Tomlinsons, the Ritters, Doug Crutchley, Hylton Sumner, Dianne Guta, and Anselmo Vilanculo.
There have been outreaches in various forms in the neighborhood; holiday bible club in 1994; the youth work on a Friday and the Sunday school have drawn in unchurched young people, and the women’s ministry has aimed to draw in unbelievers. In 2002 “Just for Starters” was run, and in 2003, Christianity Explored was added. Since then these together have been used by the Lord to bring people to Himself, May the Lord use our church family in the future to His Glory and the salvation of the lost.
The annual family camp has been a highlight of fellowship and camaraderie over the years, bringing all the people of mixed ages together under great teaching and at informal meals, walks, sports, and not to mention the camp concerts. For many years we met at Amana, where early morning walks, and Saturday afternoons at the beach were a feature, not to mention the mosquitoes, the cold, and the damp on the walls! We camped for the first time at Rocklands, Simonstown, in 2008. The differences are beyond mentioning here.!
There have been other initiatives recently such as Shepherding a Childs Heart, “What did you expect” Marriage Enrichment,The Hiking Club, Learning to Lead Together (training for men) and very recently The Men’s Fellowship all of which are ongoing areas of enrichment for “GBC Family in Christ.”
This has been a brief journey through some milestones in our ‘brief’ history. In that past we have had the joy of hosting several international speakers at GBC among them Mark Dever (U.S.), John Blanchard and Geoff Thomas (U.K.). GBC also became a founder member of the Sola 5 Association of churches comprising some Baptist Union churches and some independent churches in S.A. Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Mozambique, all committed to the historic truths of the Reformation.
The church is always far more than the shepherds and sheep at any one time. Behind every chapter is the passionate love of the Father, the persevering grace of Jesus His Son and the powerful work of the Holy Spirit, moulding and using flawed vessels to make His worth known! So we reflect with thanks on the past, yet do not live in it. The GBC family embraces the present and rejoices in hope for the future with all its opportunities,
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” – Ps. 115:1
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
GOODWOOD BAPTIST CHURCH
1972 – 2017