A Brief History of Stowmarket Church

Extended Meeting House

1719

A new Meeting House completed in Stowmarket by Robert Pett. Samuel Choyce became the first settled minister in 1723 and served until his death in 1745.


1805

After a troubled period for the church, the ordination of William Ward as minister marked the beginning of a period of growth and a 41 year long pastorate. During his ministry the old Meeting House was extended and altered out of all recognition. The church grew to become one of the strongest in Suffolk.


1855

The church affiliated to the Congregational Union of England and Wales.


1861 Church

1861

The old Meeting House was demolished and a new Chapel built during the ministry of Jonah Reeve.


1884

Luther Caws ordained as minister. The church roll contained some 550 names and the Sunday school numbered some 1200 children including country branches in the local villages. Luther Caws stayed until 1896 when ill health forced his retirement.


1919

Eric J Weir became the minister. During his ministry the church grew and work among young people became pre-eminent.


1941

The church building destroyed in an air raid by a lone German bomber. The building was a total loss. At the time of the raid Eric Weir was the chief civil defence warden for the district! Sunday services continued to be held in the Regal Cinema. A large cross was erected on the cleared church site.


1955

During the ministry of Norman Frost and largely by his efforts and determination, a new church building in contemporary style was opened and dedicated.


1956

Edmund Banyard inducted as minister. In the years that followed the Fison Hall was added to the building together with Centre Three, a modern youth centre. Edmund Banyard served a minister until he moved to Hutton & Shenfield in 1973. He was elected Moderator of General Assembly in 1988-89.


1973

The church became part of the United Reformed Church following the coming together of the Congregational Church of England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England a year earlier.


1974

Peter Peirce was inducted as minister and served until the end of 1979.


1980

John Pugh became the minister and he served the church for 23 years until his untimely death in 2003.


2004

Peter Peirce returned to Stowmarket to serve the church as its minister. The church continues to support the work of the United Reformed churches in the villages of Haughley, Mendlesham and Stowupland.


2006

Haughley signed a covenant with the Parish Church of St Mary to worship and work together and services are held jointly in the Parish Church.


2009

Peter Peirce retires as minister at Stowmarket.


2012

Chris Wood inducted as minister at Stowmarket.



(The information above is based largely upon the booklet "The First 300 Years" written by the Rev Edmund Banyard.)

Roll of Ministers

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