”Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.” John 5v39
We are an independent Reformed Baptist Chapel, which means we are governed by the Word of God alone and take all our teaching and practices from the principles of the Bible. As a church we have a number of distinctives that we believe in and hold dear:
We believe in and teach the historic doctrines of the Christian faith as contained in the major confessions of faith (e.g. 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith). For us, the bible is the only source of unchanging truth. The bible is clear that salvation comes through God’s grace alone, is secured by Christ alone and is received by faith alone. Once saved we are to live for God’s Glory alone. We teach the Doctrines of Grace (also known as the ‘Five Points of Calvinism’). (John 6v37, Ps 51v5)
We have at least one service every Sunday dedicated to straightforward evangelistic preaching. We seek to proclaim, clearly and persuasively, the lovingkindness of the Gospel message, and its power at Calvary so as to be understandable by all, whether brought up to attend a place of worship or not. We pray that God will use the Gospel Service to win many precious souls. Evangelism is a high priority for us and this also includes our evangelistic Sunday School, youth outreach and other activities. (1 Cor 9v16)
We believe that the principles set out in the bible alone should direct our worship. Worship should be for God’s glory alone and not first and foremost for our enjoyment. Our worship is to be glorious and reverent, lifting up our minds in praise, thanksgiving, repentance, dedication, intercession and the hearing of God’s Word. When these are the core characteristics of our worship to God, then our hearts and minds will also be filled and raised up. The result of true worship should never be to lift up or draw attention to mere men or women. (Exodus 20v24,25)
We aim to be a working church, with all true believers having a meaningful role in serving the Lord, if it is possible for them to do so, by joining together in various activities to bring glory to Him. We also aim to be a church that grows inwardly as much as outwardly. We seek to build a mutual concern and responsibility to support and exhort each other so that we can each grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 4v3, 2 Peter 3v18)
We believe prayer is of vital importance for both individual believers and for the Church. We therefore hold regular church Prayer Meetings. Without the blessing of God in answer to prayer, all our witness would be in vain. Corporate prayer is essential to unite the people of God together in seeking the Lord’s blessing on His work. (1 Tim 2v1-8)
We believe that the Lord’s people must keep themselves set apart from worldliness and false teaching. This is the teaching of biblical separation. False teaching is that which denies the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, as well as other fundamental teaching of the faith. True churches must defend and preserve the Truth at all costs, never compromising the only way of salvation. (2 Cor 6v14-18)
We have a concern, based on the Great Commission to pray for, support and assist where we can in the wider extension of the Kingdom of God in the UK and overseas. (Mark 16v15)
Providence Baptist Chapel is situated near to several Bunyan heritage sites and the River Great Ouse where John Bunyan was baptised by immersion in 1653.
John was the author of “The Pilgrim’s Progress”, a book which until recently outsold all English language publications other than the Bible. In total he wrote over 60 tracts, pamphlets and books, including his famous work, “The Holy War”.
The founders of Providence Baptist Chapel, who first met together at a Bran Chamber locally in 1809, were in all probability among the spiritual descendants of John Bunyan.
One of the Chapel’s current office bearers, John Pestell, wrote the “Travel with John Bunyan” Day One publication, which has been used by many to revisit Bunyan’s steps in Bedford and the surrounding area.
It was at the beginning of the 19th century that the origins of this present church were really born, although there may well be a connection back to John Bunyan who was reputedly baptised in the River Great Ouse nearby, in 1653.
In 1809 a small group who were dissatisfied with the ministry at other churches in the town, began to meet together separately for worship. For about twenty years meetings were held in a ‘Bran Chamber’ in the parish of St. Cuthberts, about half a mile west of the present site in Rothsay Road near the Castle Mound. Eventually a small church was built of brick and slate, and it was opened in July 1830. It was situated in Castle Lane, behind the Swan Hotel.
During the sixty year pastorate of Mr John W Wren the building became too small for the large congregation, so the present commodious Victorian chapel was erected in October 1894, to the glory of God. It seats about 600 people and at the beginning of the twentieth century was regularly filled for each Sunday service.
In the Second World War, Pastor S Rutherford Hunt opened a rest centre for service personnel in the upstairs schoolroom. Soldiers were invited to relax and socialise, write letters to loved ones, while being served refreshments and even being offered clothing repairs by the ladies who attended the chapel at the time.
As the twenty-first century dawned the church welcomed Mr Graham Chewter, the 7th Pastor in the two hundred year history of its existence. During this pastorate the church grew and the morning Sunday School was commenced with children coming in from estates on the outskirts of the town.
Outreach into the town includes a weekly Bible study in Bedford Prison and open air witness in the shopping areas. Missionary outreach further afield includes links with other Christians around the world.
Redevelopment to the rear section of the building a few years ago including a lift to the first floor, redesigned kitchen and three well equipped meeting rooms, enable us to cater for the various requirements of a town centre church in the modern world.
A booklet produced for the centenary of the chapel building in 1994 is still available for visitors who may be interested in a fuller history of our church.
We meet regularly to hear the Word of God preached, with a specific Gospel Service each Sunday Evening to which we seek to invite as many as possible. It is our concern that the good news of Jesus Christ is preached and that God will bless this ministry to those that hear it. Our worship is centred on the Bible and its teaching about Jesus Christ. The congregation includes families and individuals from various walks of life, nationalities and backgrounds. We have an evangelistic Sunday School here on Sunday mornings where young people aged 4+ to 18 are taught Bible truth.
In December 2019, the Chapel’s 8th Pastor, Mr Oliver Wyncoll was called to take up the pastorate. His induction service took on Saturday 7th March 2020 when an estimated five hundred people attended the meeting.