There have been Baptist Churches in England since the early 17th Century. Due to the refusal of Baptists to become members of the Church of England, they were called Dissenters and persecuted for their belief in religious freedom.
Baptists in Gateshead
The first evidence of a Baptist presence on Tyneside is the record of a Baptist preacher in Newcastle in 1651. The following year mention is made of Mr. Thomas Gower who was leading a flourishing congregation. In 1823, the Tuthill Stairs congregation first opened a Baptist Sunday School in Gateshead, which met in Pipewellgate then moved to the Mechanics Institute in West Street, Gateshead.
Beginnings of Gateshead Central Baptist Church
On Sunday 15 April 1877 the first Baptist Church was formally constituted with 38 members and on 12 September of the same year the foundation stone for Gateshead Central Baptist Church was laid. The present hall was the first part of the building to be constructed and the first services were held there on the first Sunday in December 1877. The church buildings were completed the following year and the opening service took place on Sunday 23rd June 1878. In 1904 the Church membership had grown to 379.
Opening of a new Baptist Church
In the 1950s, a group of members from Gateshead Central Baptist Church started a Sunday School in the Beacon Lough area where new housing development had taken place. As the work grew, Church Services were held on Sundays in a rented scout hut at the foot of Beacon Lough Bank. By 1963, it was decided that Beacon Lough Baptist Church should be founded as a church in its own right. This became reality with the opening of a church in Southend Road in 1968.
Into the Future
Many events and uplifting occasions have taken place since then. In 2002 Gateshead Central Baptist Church celebrated it 125th aniversary. We praise God that He continues to inspire people to come and worship and serve Him today.
In May 2019 we began an exciting new chapter in the life of our church. We have temporarily moved out of our building on Durham Road while building work is being done. The sanctuary has been sold to a developer who has received planning permission to convert the original building into apartments. The old church hall will remain a place of worship. It is currently being redesigned and refurbished, and we will move back in once these works have been completed.
The people of Gateshead Central Baptist Church will continue to meet together to worship God, no matter where that may be.