Who are Bethany?
Bethany Baptist Fellowship

A TESTIMONY TO GOD’S GUIDANCE

We Exist to Make Jesus known.

During the mid 1960’s people from Caldicot started to gravitate towards the Baptist Church in Magor, firstly in cars, then a mini bus, then in greater numbers in a coach. Due to the distance between the two places some difficulty was experienced in fulfilling the spiritual needs of the Caldicot folk. In the meantime Caldicot town was expanding and it was felt that there was a need for a clear Baptist witness in the town. It was during this time that Rev Clifford Henson had the vision for a Baptist church in Caldicot. There was considerable growth at Ebenezer, Magor during Rev Henson’s ministry and by 1972 a 42 seater coach was full of people travelling from Caldicot to Magor to worship. The demands of pastoring what was becoming 2 churches was challenging. Fulfilling the spiritual needs of the Caldicot folk was becoming difficult. Caldicot as a town was growing rapidly and there was a clear need for a Baptist witness in the town.

In the early 1970’s under the leadership of Rev H P Jones and some Association Churches, along with Ebenezer, Magor it was decided to financially support the establishment of a Baptist Church in Caldicot. A plot of land was purchased by Gwent English Baptist Association for a prospective building. The Baptist Union declared it an initial pastorate and in 1975 Rev Dr Alison Jones was called as the first full time minister with special responsibilities for developing the work in the town. While Alison was in Caldicot she met her future husband Francis and was married at Ebenezer, Magor. Alison was called to another sphere of service and is now living in Scotland.

In July 1980, following 4 years of training at South Wales Baptist College in Cardiff, Rev Chris Hughes was inducted as part of the Magor/Caldicot team. Chris was to establish the church in Caldicot and oversee the building of the church on the land purchased by GEBA. Very soon under the guidance of the Spirit we felt as a church that a building was essential if the work was to further progress and prosper. While acknowledging that the building only houses the real church it was felt very strongly that we needed a base from which to work. The cost was £30,000.00 and our mother church at Ebenezer, Magor gave considerable financial commitment to the project.

Initially Family Worship Services were held at St Mary’s Junior School Hall (now Castle Green School) with approximately 40 people attending each Sunday morning. Two Sunday school classes were held in the same hall behind screens! As well as Sunday Morning Worship there was also two Bible Study Groups and a Prayer Fellowship Meeting. Evening Worship at the school was introduced in 1981/1982.

In October 1983 the original plans had to be scrapped, the drawings had to be redone time and time again, Monmouthshire Planning Office moved at a snails pace. The cost more than doubled. We were all a bit disheartened, but endeavoured to see what the Lord was trying to say to us through the set backs, believing that He wanted to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones. We waited on the Lord and a number of people sensed that the project was over ambitious and we were going along the wrong road.

This was confirmed by a verse of Scripture that the Lord showed us:
"I will lead my blind people by roads they have never travelled. I will turn their darkness into light and make rough country smooth before them. These are my promises and I will keep them without fail." Isaiah 42:16

It was obvious that we had got it wrong, and a complete re-think of the project was needed. Gradually, however, blindness gave way to sight, rough country to smooth. The drawings were re-done in simpler form for a smaller less expensive building; a local builder was selected after much prayer and a starting date agreed. The whole fellowship began to look to the Lord in trust to meet our financial needs. The project got under way, and everyone praised the Lord and breathed a quiet sigh of sanctified relief as everything now continued to move forward smoothly. It was a difficult and heart searching time for everyone.

The church family looked in faith to the future confident that the Lord would make what after all was His vision a reality. On 31st July 1984 the awful waiting period came to an end and work on the building began. Thanks to so much hard work the building was built, completed and ready for the Opening and Dedication Service held on 5th January 1985.

Rev Clifford Henson had the joy of declaring the building open. Many friends joined the church to give thanks and praise to God for His goodness. Rev Byron Jones gave the address based on Isaiah 54:2-3.
"Make the tent you live in larger; lengthen it’s ropes and strengthen the pegs! You will extend your boundaries on all sides; your people will get back the land that the other nations now occupy."

The building was completed, not as the end, but as a beginning. It was designed so that the church could grow with plenty of room on site for further expansion if needed. We sought to become a lively, outgoing, Christ centred fellowship ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit to the needs of our immediate area.

The church was deeply grateful to all those who had helped in the venture of faith, and many attended the opening service. But more than anything the church was grateful to Almighty God for the things He had shown and taught us; and for the way in which He had expressed His faithfulness to us. The church looked forward with trust and confidence to an exciting and challenging future.

Bethany Baptist Church - Caldicot, South Wales