The History of our Church
The Church began in 1887 as a group of Christians meeting, following – we understand – the ministry of Somerset born Ephraim Venn who was only around 30 years old at the time. He was convinced that he became a Christian on 11th July 1876.
“On that day, during a short walk with George Brealey of the Blackdown Hills mission, Clayhidon, who quoted John 5:24, the light entered his soul, and he knew himself a child of God. From that moment his one desire was to spread the joyful news of salvation and to lead sinners to Christ. Two Sundays afterward, he and another young Christian began to preach the Gospel in an old Baptist Chapel near Clayhidon.”
Clearly an evangelist at heart, Ephraim poured his life into sharing the Christian faith, ministering both in Dublin and London, but the work in small villages and among country folk lay nearer to his heart. Shortly after his death on 27th December 1930, the following verse was found in his pocket book, and no doubt sums up his whole attitude to life, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8)
It’s good to know that the roots of the Church are founded in ‘mission’. Dorchester Community Church became an Independent Church in the early 1970’s. In short this means that, although a Bible believing Church, we are not affiliated to any one denomination. We are however members of the Evangelical Alliance.
Moving on to the present, 2004 saw the Church appoint it’s first ever Pastor, Roger Frapwell. There were just 50 members. From a background in Sainsbury’s, Roger was trained at Moorlands Bible College, a Christian training centre in Dorset before starting to work for Spurgeon’s Child Care at his then home Church at Testwood Baptist Church, Totton, Southampton. It was here that he gave birth to the community project, ‘Youth And Families Matter’ and indeed managed this project for 11 years. YFM, as it is affectionately known now continues to be a key resource in Totton for supporting young people and families. Roger was one of three ministers at Testwood. In addition to his managing YFM, his main responsibilities for the Church were outreach, youth work, leading and preaching. A key verse for Roger and indeed the Church has been from Isaiah 43:18-19… “See, I am doing a new thing…”
The Church had initially sought to recruit a part-time worker. Roger asked if the Church saw this role growing into a full time role? The response he received was that the Church had enough money for a part-time worker for 4 years, but a full-time worker for only two years. Roger said, “Then why don’t I start full time and let’s see what God does…” Numbers began to increase. We started to run an ‘Alpha’ course, developed child protection procedures, and began to develop small groups, soon linking with other Churches in more creative forms of outreach. There was question and growing concern over the name of the Church – back then called ‘Acland Road Evangelical Church’. Following much discussion we became ‘Dorchester Community Church.’
In response to local need we started a befriending scheme. Now with APS accreditation, ‘Dorchester Friends in Deed‘ is a key part of the Church, supporting many in our community who are either lonely or vulnerable.
We took a further step of faith back in 2008 when we appointed a second member of staff. With no outside financial support, this was a measure of how far the Church had come, certainly in terms of giving. Simon Burin became our Youth Pastor and has subsequently developed many of our current ministries, such as the Holiday Club, local Christian Union, Puppet Ministry etc.
Following Simon’s departure we re-considered our needs and priorities. We decided to recruit 3 part-time positions; a Youth & Families Worker, Children & Families Worker, and a Financial Assistant.