VALE’S BEGINNINGS: Church Planting had been on the heart of Bromham Baptist Church (BBC) for a number of years and in early 2005 it came to the forefront as part of the then minister’s vision. From that time on they sought God for the way forward, both in terms of location and leadership. After much prayer, and many pictures and words, they felt led to Marston Moretaine, a village with a population of approx. 4000, 8 miles south of Bromham and four miles east of Junction 13 of the M1.
The vision was to establish an emerging expression of church, aimed at unbelievers and the 'de-churched', which would develop into a full expression of Christian community for those who didn't connect with 'traditional' styles of church. It was felt that as well as focusing on mission locally they should have an international focus, which led to an early link with the Williamson family in Cusco, Peru who had been on a similar journey themselves.
A Special Church Member's Meeting in January 2008 confirmed the call to plant a church in Marston Moretaine to be led by BBC's Staff Elder, Steve Gaunt, and his wife Jo-Ann. Although two couples lived in the village, nobody else had heard of them, so 12 months were spent building relationships and becoming known in the community.
The team helped out at the village Youth Club; took over the running of two Mum & Baby groups; helped restart a Mum’s & Toddler’s group; started hearing children read at the local lower school; started two ‘Chatterbox’ cafés in local lower schools for mums, dads and carers to have refreshments and chat after dropping their children off in the morning; and ran a Holiday Club during the first week of August. The relationships and trust that were built up led the team to establish Sunday Brunch in October 2008 in the local school hall.
Sunday Brunch was a café open from 10.30am to 12 noon on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month. Its aim was to provide opportunities for people to make new friends and explore the Christian faith in a relaxed and friendly setting. It was about food - fun – friends – family – faith. A brunch was served, there was a theme for the day which included a quiz and a ten minute ‘food4thought’. Newspapers were available and there was a creche area and children's work.
Sunday Supplement was launched in September 2009 following a positive response to a feedback survey of those attending Sunday Brunch. Part of which asked if people would be interested in coming along on a Sunday morning once a month to a time of modern worship, prayer, a short talk and the sharing of people’s stories with tea, coffee, doughnuts and children’s work. Sunday Supplement met on the 4th Sunday of each month from 10.30am to 12 noon.
Sunday Extra was introduced at the beginning of 2011 at request of those attending the Sunday Supplement who wanted to meet on the second Sunday of each month as well. However, there was a desire for a slightly different format from that of our Sunday Supplement. People wanted to share communion together, have time for reflection and receive longer teaching on topics relevant to their daily lives.
Continued growth was seen with anywhere between 50-70 people coming along to the Sunday Brunch and 60-80 to the Sunday Gatherings. Five Alpha courses were run with 17 people coming to faith, 15 of whom were baptised.
In July of 2012, the group became a fully constituted church with 40 members and called Steve Gaunt to be it's Minister and his wife Jo-Ann the Associate Minister. In 2013 the church became members of the Central Baptist Association and the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
The name Vale Community Church was chosen, to reflect the desire to see God's Spirit flow through the whole of the Vale of Marston and to be at the centre of the community where people could come together to discover God's love for them. The challenge to the church members was not to settle, but to believe God had called them to keep pioneering. It has been exciting to see how God has gone ahead of and opened door after door! And as they say, 'The rest is history!'